The Instigator
TheRussian
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Briannj17
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points

Do we have free will?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 0 votes the winner is...
It's a Tie!
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/19/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 545 times Debate No: 86893
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (19)
Votes (0)

 

TheRussian

Con

Though I want to believe in free will, I have not yet found a reason to do so. It seems that everything is predetermined. My opponent has sole BoP to demonstrate that we have free will. We will define "free will" as the ability to make unbiased decisions or the idea that not everything (in terms of decisions) is predetermined.

No semantics. I want this to be more of a productive discussion rather than a debate.

Any questions will be answered in the comments.

I would appreciate it if my opponent provided his/her arguments in the First Round.
Briannj17

Pro

I accept. I would like you to go more in depth on your reasons for believing we don't have free will, since the fact you made this debate goes against your supposition.
Debate Round No. 1
TheRussian

Con

I would like to emphasize that my opponent, supporting an affirmative claim, has sole BoP in this case. I will nevertheless answer his question. Essentially, there are causes for every event, every decision. My decision to start this debate occurred because I started wondering about the issue because I, an atheist without a reference for philosophical or spiritual issues, think about such things a lot and so on and so on. There are reasons for everything, decisions or events don't happen randomly, spontaneously or illogically. Our logic is the opponent of free will, it keeps us from making random, illogical (obviously) decisions. Those who act illogically have a reason to do so and are not acting out of "free will" either. A world with free will is chaotic and senseless. A world without free will (the one we live in) functions by predictable cause and effect.

I curiously await my opponent's arguments for the existence of "free will".
Briannj17

Pro

Alrighty let's take care of business...

Free Will: The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one"s own discretion. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com...

This is the definition closest to what you said. I will now show why free will does indeed exist.

1. Observation- First, the fact of observation. We observe that we can choose freely. Like if we want to drink some water or a coke and if you introspect, you will see this too. There is no reason to assume that these observations are predetermined, any more than there is reason to assume that what we will see, hear or touch is predetermined. Science itself rests on observation; that is, they take the observed facts as a given, and work from there. Our observation of our mental freedom is an empirical fact that is repeatedly and continuously confirmed every time we make a choice. This was my point I raised about you making this debate. You observe and you feel the need to react. That is free will in motion. To say that was predetermined is nonsensical especially since you admitted you don't believe in divine intervention.

2. Skepticism- If things were predetermined why would we have to double check on things or take a second look? If free will didn't exist we wouldn't need to second guess ourselves because everything would already be determined. You are skeptical on free will's existence and other people aren't, therefore these differences in beliefs must represent free will.

3. Next I have a thought experiment. Now say that science found the equation that predicts exactly what you will do. And they experiment on you in their room. Suppose that the experiment says that the next thing that you will do is raise your arm and they show this to you. The fact that you can choose not to act on predictions shows that free will exists. If you can falsify any prediction about your arm or anything you do then your mind must be free. SO as I was saying the denial of
free will is predicated on us denying the very laws that supposedly show that free will is impossible. If human behavior were unfree, then science could in theory at least predict when I am going to raise my hand or make a funny face etc. Free will exists because we all act differently in situations. Free will exists because we can't predict what will happen tomorrow and because we can make choices when predictions arise.

http://www.libertarian.co.uk...

There's my argument now let's move on to rebutting,

"Essentially there are causes for every event every decision"

This is true however the fact that you say we make decisions means that there are choices and the choices we make are of our own free will not predetermined. Is there a reason I tap my foot right now? Is there a reason I just walked in a circle? Could any of this be predicted with certainty? Yes, if you believe in God. However you said you don't so that is off the table. The fact we cannot predict our actions, and the fact we make choices makes the case for free will.

"Decisions or events don't happen randomly, spontaneously or illogically"

Wrong. I decided to walk around my chair and yell "Who- Rah" Was this logical? I say it was completely random and spontaneous. Also the fact that one thing is logical to one person (Like taking a shortcut on a gravel road) and to another that is illogical and they would rather take the highway. The other day I was working and forgot my lunch. This was totally illogical since I need to eat. No one could expect this. The fact that we forget logical things makes the case for free will.

"Logic is the opponent of free will"

Totally wrong here. Also a red herring fallacy.Logic makes a case for free will. When we have to make a choice we make the logical decision. The only reason it's logical is because we chose it!
Logic: reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity.
https://www.google.ca...

SO I have a car and a truck. I want to go back roading. So I take the truck. It's the logical decision. I made that choice on my own free will. I could have chose the car or I might not have gone at all. These choices we make are of our own free will. No science said that we must chose one, we are not limited in the choices we can make. This is why free will exists.

"Those who act illogically have a reason to to so.."

I beg to differ since I forgot my lunch the other day. Totally illogical and yet it happens without any notice at all. Is there a reason I forgot my lunch? No! Life is unpredictable and the choices we make are made on our free will. Because we act against logic whether subconsciously and consciously makes the case for a free will.

"A world without free will is chaotic and senseless"

No, a world without logic is chaotic and senseless. Free will and logic go hand in hand. Since you can make an illogical decision, like pooping on someones doorstep, that is free will in motion. Or you can use your free will to help an old lady cross the street. Don't mix logic with free will. They are not the same.

"A world without free will functions by predictable cause and effect"

Alright now I have something to work with. If this is what you believe a world without free will is. I will show you that this is not the world we live in right now. Thus we must live in a world with free will. The unexpected tornado, the cartoon safe that lands on Uncle George, the winning pull on a slot machine odd things pop out of a computation. The world can simultaneously be deterministic and unpredictable.

Unpredictable: unknown in advance
https://www.vocabulary.com...

So can you predict predict what you will do exactly tomorrow? Can you predict the choices that will come your way? Can you predict your death? If you answered no to these questions the world as we know it is unpredictable and goes against your statement. I never predicted this debate, because I believe free will exists. I had the choice to accept or not I accepted on my own free will even though this was unexpected. Just as a wake up call, the world we live in is chaotic. What is logical to one person may be illogical to another.

In conclusion...
With arguments on the table and rebuttals as well I look forward to my opponents response.
Debate Round No. 2
TheRussian

Con

I thank my opponent for his argument and also thank him for finding a great definition of "free will".

"Like if we want to drink some water or a coke...There is no reason to assume that these observations are predetermined, any more than there is reason to assume that what we will see, hear or touch is predetermined."
Your decision to drink coke or water will be based on something already in existence, it won't be a choice produced from inside you from nothingness. For example, you would choose to drink water if maybe you really want to quench your thirst, or maybe you have drank a lot of soda the past couple of days and so you decide it's enough (a decision based on already present values you have on maintaining health). There is absolutely a reason to assume that observations are predetermined. How could they not be? You have no control over what will come across you to be observed, every action you take is merely a reaction to already-present environmental/psychological factors.

"Our observation of our mental freedom is an empirical fact that is repeatedly and continuously confirmed every time we make a choice."
My point is that there really is no "choice". I will emphasize this point in my following rebuttals, but how you react to a change in the environment is not your choice because you will react based on your interests, values etc. that YOU DID NOT CREATE as they were instilled by family members (who you didn't choose), your culture (which you didn't choose), and your physical environment (you don't choose where you're born). For the last point, yes you could move later in life, but even that won't be a spontaneous decision, but a REACTION to some change that caused you to move.

"To say that was predetermined is nonsensical especially since you admitted you don't believe in divine intervention."
To say that everything is predetermined is not the same as saying that everything has a purpose or meaning. It could all be directionless, pointless, but nevertheless, we have no control over it.

"If things were predetermined why would we have to double check on things or take a second look? If free will didn't exist we wouldn't need to second guess ourselves because everything would already be determined."
Because many people DON'T believe that everything is predetermined. Even those that do, it doesn't mean they just drop everything and give up on life. Those that believe in free will don't want to risk it.

" You are skeptical on free will's existence and other people aren't, therefore these differences in beliefs must represent free will."
Differences in beliefs of any kind are not at all proof of free will. Differences in beliefs arise from people developing in different conditions (which they don't control) that shape who they are and what they believe in. I was raised in a secular household and as a result, I am very non-religious. As a result of being non-religious, I get into arguments a lot with theists/believers. As a result, I often reconsider my position and think about things that my religious friends can answer by reading their religious text. As a result of this thinking, I come up with issues such as these. Not much choosing going on.

My opponent's point 3 is sort of meaningless. There would still be a cause for you not raising your arm, and it would be an effort to disprove the robot/machine/equation.

"Free will exists because we all act differently in situations"
No. We all act differently in different situations because we have already present factors (genetics, beliefs, personality) that we didn't choose that shape our response to the situation.

"Free will exists because we can't predict what will happen tomorrow and because we can make choices when predictions arise."
Yes, we do not have the tools to predict everything. But there is a cause for everything and if we could take into account every single factor that was involved, we would be able to predict events. But just because we can't accurately predict doesn't at all mean that we have free will. A couple thousand years ago, people couldn't predict weather very well. Does that mean that back then, the weather was totally random? Of course not.

Now moving on to rebutting my opponent's rebuttals.

"This is true however the fact that you say we make decisions means that there are choices and the choices we make are of our own free will not predetermined. Is there a reason I tap my foot right now? Is there a reason I just walked in a circle?"
We may have choices, but our decision (which one we will "pick") is again, the result of our biases which we did not choose. If you're tapping your foot, you're doing it to prove a point to yourself, or maybe because you're nervous, or maybe because you're thinking of a song etc. There is a cause for it. As for walking in a circle, you didn't just walk in a circle.

"I decided to walk around my chair and yell "Who- Rah" Was this logical? I say it was completely random and spontaneous."
But under normal circumstances, you didn't. People bring these kinds of things up all the time. They say "Oh yeah? Well I could just go out on the street and walk naked right now and it would be my choice!". But they're not going to. They're not going to do that, it's a meaningless hypothetical scenario, and even if they did do that, there would be a reason for it.

"Also the fact that one thing is logical to one person (Like taking a shortcut on a gravel road) and to another that is illogical and they would rather take the highway."
Indeed, but there is a reason for the difference in opinion of those two people. Maybe they were brought up differently (out of their control), maybe one doesn't want to get his/her car dirty on the gravel road because it's new and they value their car more than a couple of minutes saved on the road.

"When we have to make a choice we make the logical decision. The only reason it's logical is because we chose it!"
Exactly, when given options you take the most logical one to you. You don't really have a "choice" because you're not going to choose to do something absurd or "irrational" unless there is some factor that moved you to do so. Logic is what makes human decisions predictable and if the person makes a decision that doesn't follow society's idea of "logic", then there is a reason for that. Maybe the person was insane, maybe he he was trying to accomplish something that the society isn't aware of, etc.

"I beg to differ since I forgot my lunch the other day. Totally illogical and yet it happens without any notice at all. Is there a reason I forgot my lunch? No!"
Yes, there is a reason. Maybe you were tired in the morning, maybe you were thinking about a person you have a crush on that you're going to see, maybe you were stressing out about an interview etc. It's not random, though it might seem so.

"Life is unpredictable and the choices we make are made on our free will. Because we act against logic whether subconsciously and consciously makes the case for a free will."
Yes we might act against what society deems logical, but we have a reason for doing so. No decision we make, no event that occurs is completely random or causeless.

"'A world without free will is chaotic and senseless'

No, a world without logic is chaotic and senseless. Since you can make an illogical decision, like pooping on someones doorstep, that is free will in motion."

First of all, you have misquoted me. I said "A world WITH free will is chaotic and senseless." And you are precisely right, a world without logic is a world with free will, which would be chaotic and senseless. Logic is a massive guiding force that determines our decisions and if we act illogically, then there is another environmental/emotional/psychological factor that overrode our logic. Yes, you CAN poop on someone's doorstep, but the key here is that you WON'T. And if you do, then there is a reason for it (insanity, high on drugs, drunk etc.).

"Don't mix logic with free will. They are not the same."
I'm not. I'm actually saying that they are opposites, as can be seen in my phrase in Round 2: "Our logic is the opponent of free will, it keeps us from making random, illogical (obviously) decisions."

"The unexpected tornado...The world can simultaneously be deterministic and unpredictable."
Unexpected does not mean unpredictable. As I mentioned previously, just because we don't have the tools to perfectly predict everything doesn't mean that things happen randomly. Certain atmospheric conditions were present in order for the tornado to occur, for example. And that is precisely my point! The world CAN be deterministic but unpredictable by us. However, if we can't predict it, it doesn't mean that predicting an event is totally impossible. If we knew all the factors involved, we WOULD be able to predict. Things don't happen randomly or without cause.

For context of this debate, I'd like to challenge your definition of "unpredictable" and provide this definition as a substitute:
not able to be predicted.

Considering this, nothing is truly unpredictable.

My opponent keeps saying that just because we humans can't currently predict something, that it is random. No, if we had all of the knowledge about a situation, we would indeed be able to make perfect prediction about the situation.

"So can you predict predict what you will do exactly tomorrow? "
No, but that doesn't mean that it's random.

"Can you predict the choices that will come your way?"
No, but they're clearly out of my control and I have no influence on them (supporting my point further).

"Can you predict your death?"
No, but that doesn't mean that it will be random.

"I never predicted this debate, because I believe free will exists."
No, you didn't predict it because you don't have the tools to. If there was a third person omniscient observer, he/she would be able to predict this. (He/she would know that I'd make the debate and you would see, disagree and accept).
Briannj17

Pro

Okay let's see here...

"Your decision to drink coke or water will be based on something already in existence, it won't be a choice produced from inside you from nothingness...... For example, you would choose to drink water if maybe you really want to quench your thirst, or maybe you have drank a lot of soda the past couple of days and so you decide it's enough (a decision based on already present values you have on maintaining health)."

Okay your arguments are turning into truisms. You are stating that there are reasons for everything. This is absolutely true there is no argument that I could really make against that. However this is a debate on free will, not cause and effect. We have the ability to act at our own free will and that is what we are discussing. Back to the coke and water argument. The fact that I can chose means that we can act at our own discretion.

"My point is that there really is no "choice"... how you react to a change in the environment is not your choice because you will react based on your interests, values etc. that were instilled by family members (who you didn't choose), your culture (which you didn't choose), and your physical environment (you don't choose where you're born). For the last point, yes you could move later in life, but even that won't be a spontaneous decision, but a REACTION to some change that caused you to move."

The main reason you think choices don't exist is the fact that after those choices are made they are set and you cannot get them back. It doesn't mean we didn't make a choice, the fact is we have free will because we are not robots. We are not all programmed. (even though you seem to think so) We have the freedom to choose what we want to do. It is backwards thinking to say we cannot act of our own accord. Again I cannot argue cause and effect since you could put a cause to everything. Like, "I ran because I wanted to go faster" in our world we put reasons to everything and I cannot argue that. However I can argue that the choices we make are not all instilled into our brains.

"To say that everything is predetermined is not the same as saying that everything has a purpose or meaning. It could all be directionless, pointless, but nevertheless, we have no control over it."

Again a truism here. Everything we know of has a cause so there is no sense in arguing that. However we put the meaning on the choices we make. SO your argument on cause and effect fails to disprove free will.

"Because many people DON'T believe that everything is predetermined. Even those that do, it doesn't mean they just drop everything and give up on life. Those that believe in free will don't want to risk it."

That wasn't a very good rebuttal. You are saying everything is up in the brain. Well then the brain wouldn't second guess itself. So the choice to second guess is made at our own free will. Therefore according to your rebuttal free will must exist.

"Differences in beliefs of any kind are not at all proof of free will."

But you agreed that people can change their beliefs later on. I believe in God. Is this logical since I never seen him before? Listen I have the choice to give him up any time. Same as the whole world can change their ways. This begs for the existence of free will since millions of people change their belief in God everyday! This is odd since some people were raised like you in a non secular home, and turned their ways to believe in a being they never seen or believed in in the past.

"My opponent's point 3 is sort of meaningless. There would still be a cause for you not raising your arm, and it would be an effort to disprove the robot/machine/equation."

There would be a cause for you to raise your arm and a cause for you to not raise your arm. The choice is yours and the choice you make is made from your own free will. That proves free will exists.

"No. We all act differently in different situations because we have already present factors (genetics, beliefs, personality) that we didn't choose that shape our response to the situation."

Are you saying if I go and murder someone right now it wasn't of my own free will? This happens everyday! Yes everybody can put a reason on everything this doesn't disprove free will since it is our actions ion situations that we put the reason on. For example if I am hungry I can eat a pizza or another pizza that looks and is exactly the same. I choose one at my own free will because they are exactly the same.

"But there is a cause for everything and if we could take into account every single factor that was involved, we would be able to predict events."

A cause for everything doesn't disprove free will. Like I said. I have two pens both are black and look exactly the same. Why did I choose one over the other? Because I had my own free will to choose.

I have two marbles, both the same, I choose one over the other, Why? Because it was my own free will.

I go into a library, pick up a random book instead of a certain one. Why? Because I made a choice at my own discretion.

A sniper has a decision to make. Each of three enemy soldiers is going to kill a fellow soldier all of the same rank and all unseen to the sniper. One bullet left. He shoots one of them. Why? It was just his own free will to shoot.

In conclusion...
This is all I'll write for now. I look forward to your remarks.
Debate Round No. 3
TheRussian

Con

"Okay your arguments are turning into truisms. You are stating that there are reasons for everything. This is absolutely true there is no argument that I could really make against that. However this is a debate on free will, not cause and effect."
This is critical. No decision that you or I make is "from within". Everything is a response to an ALREADY EXISTING stimulus, which is the cause.

"The fact that I can chose means that we can act at our own discretion."
But you're not really choosing without bias. There are factors ALREADY PRESENT in your physical self or environment that will determine your course of action.

"However we put the meaning on the choices we make."
This is a meaningless phrase. You put "meaning" in "choosing" coke over water?

" SO your argument on cause and effect fails to disprove free will."
But it doesn't fail. You call my arguments "truisms". Of course they are truisms! The very idea of free will doesn't make sense! There is cause/stimulus, and there is effect/response. The response is always determined by factors that are ALREADY PRESENT.

"I believe in God. Is this logical since I never seen him before? Listen I have the choice to give him up any time."
No, it's not logical at all. And yes, you technically have the option to give up on him, but you probably won't because you don't want to believe that everything is meaningless, that there is no benevolent, guiding force in the heavens and that after death, you simply cease to exist. As a result of these factors, you most likely won't "give up on him".

"This begs for the existence of free will since millions of people change their belief in God everyday! This is odd since some people were raised like you in a non secular home, and turned their ways to believe in a being they never seen or believed in in the past."
Once again, I think you are misquoting me or misunderstanding. I was raised in a SECULAR home and have NOT "turned my ways" to believing in God. I hope, but don't believe. Your point here doesn't really prove anything because yes, people change their beliefs, but there were outside physical reasons that prompted them to do this. A person is raised in a religious household (out of their control) and they start life with a faith in God as a result. Over time, this person really starts to question God (because of his/her skeptical personality which they didn't choose) and decides that faith in God is unreasonable and becomes atheist. While it may seem like a decision coming from within, there is really not choosing here either.

"There would be a cause for you to raise your arm and a cause for you to not raise your arm. The choice is yours and the choice you make is made from your own free will. That proves free will exists."
There actually wouldn't really be a cause for you to raise your arm in that situation. But let's assume that there is. Your "decision" will depend on your mood, attitude etc. For example, I myself wouldn't raise my arm because I don't want to believe that a machine can predict my every move and I would act in rebellion. No real choosing going on here either.

"Are you saying if I go and murder someone right now it wasn't of my own free will? This happens everyday! Yes everybody can put a reason on everything this doesn't disprove free will since it is our actions ion situations that we put the reason on."
Yes, if you murder someone, it isn't of your own "free will". There are ALREADY PRESENT factors that pushed you to that decision. For example, psychopaths have underdeveloped amygdalas (part of the brain responsible for empathy) that result in them feeling no remorse in actions that hurt others. Another situation could just be a person "losing their mind". If an individual is already mentally unstable as a result of genetics and maybe parents (neither of which they control), then they could "snap" and go kill someone. There are infinite possibilities and in none of them does a person sit down and "decide" out of the blue to go kill someone.

"I have two pens both are black and look exactly the same. Why did I choose one over the other? Because I had my own free will to choose."
No. You "chose" the pen you did because it's the first one you looked at, or because your hand was closer to one of them etc. There is always a reason.

"I have two marbles, both the same, I choose one over the other, Why?"
Same response as above. There are always reasons. How about this, do animals have free will? If I put a cockroach the same distance from two equally sized items of food and he "picks" one, did he demonstrate free will?

"I go into a library, pick up a random book instead of a certain one."
You liked the title, you liked the book cover color or texture, you weren't intimidated by the size of the book, the book was at face level rather than on a high or low shelf. There is always a reason for a choice, an explanation that is more concrete than "free will".

"A sniper has a decision to make. Each of three enemy soldiers is going to kill a fellow soldier all of the same rank and all unseen to the sniper. One bullet left. He shoots one of them. Why?"
There is a very oddly specific hypothetical scenario, however, there will be a logical reason for his "choice". Or maybe it WON'T be logical, maybe he's aiming at one and he gets frustrated because he knows he can't save the situation so he just shoots out of anger at whatever his cross-hair was already on.

It truly seems that one CANNOT make an unbiased decision, which is exactly what free will suggests. It is impossible to do, and because of this, free will does not exist.

I await my opponent's response...
Briannj17

Pro

"No decision that you or I make is "from within". Everything is a response to an ALREADY EXISTING stimulus, which is the cause."

I agree that there can always be a cause to everything we do. However just because there is a cause doesn't mean our reaction wasn't made from our own free will. For example, I am bored. There are multiple things that I can do. I can drive around town. (The cause is I am bored and I like to drive) I can continue to sit on the couch (the cause I am bored and requires less energy expelled) I can go on debate.org (the cause is I have some arguments to make and I am bored) the list can go on forever. The choices that we make we can put a cause to all of them. This doesn't mean that the choice wasn't made.

.".. you're not really choosing without bias. There are factors ALREADY PRESENT in your physical self or environment that will determine your course of action."

There is no way to predict what I will do or what you will do in a certain situation such as what you will eat or what activity you will do. There is just no way. If free will didn't exist we would all act the same in all situations. For example you are saying it is the way they are brought up. How can they be brought up or raised differently if their parents or the parents before them didn't have free will? If free will didn't exist we would all be taught the same way. We would eat a certain type of food and that food only, we would all go to bed at the same time, we would do everything the same. Free will therefore exists because we all act differently in certain situations.

"You put "meaning" in "choosing" coke over water?"
Yes. We put the meaning in the choices we make. Like "I chose water because I was thirsty" or "I chose coke because it tastes better than water and I am not really that thirsty." We put the meaning in the choices we make. We give everything a cause. This doesn't mean we didn't make a choice. We did make a choice.

Choice: an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.
https://www.google.ca...

"You call my arguments "truisms". Of course they are truisms! The very idea of free will doesn't make sense! There is cause/stimulus, and there is effect/response. The response is always determined by factors that are ALREADY PRESENT."

Yes cause and effect. Putting a cause on everything doesn't make free will an impossibility. Free will is acting at ones own discretion. There are many different choices we are faced with everyday. Coke or water. You can put a cause on either one.
"I drink water because I'm thirsty" or "I drink coke because it tastes good" Two choices one decision. Every choice we make we can put a cause on. But as I've been saying it doesn't mean we didn't make a choice.

"There actually wouldn't really be a cause for you to raise your arm in that situation. But let's assume that there is. Your "decision" will depend on your mood, attitude etc. For example, I myself wouldn't raise my arm because I don't want to believe that a machine can predict my every move and I would act in rebellion. No real choosing going on here either."

There is a choice though. Your beliefs differ from others. Why is this since you believe free will doesn't exist? Why would your parents and their parents before have a different belief from others if free will doesn't exist? If free will did not exist we would all act the same in situations. We don't and this means that free will exists.

"No. You "chose" the pen you did because it's the first one you looked at, or because your hand was closer to one of them etc. There is always a reason."

You put the reason in it. My reason might be different. Why? Because every thing we know of we feel the need to make a cause. I say I chose the pen at my own discretion. You say there is always a reason. well of course there is a reason but since reasons differ we must have free will.

For instance click on this link >>>>>,http://www.randomwebsite.com...

Will you click on it?
Right now the chances are 50/50. You may not click on it because I told you and you don't want to feel controlled by me, or you may click on it because your curious. The choice is yours not your external environments or your mom or dad it is your choice to make made at your own discretion and this proves that free will exists.

"It truly seems that one CANNOT make an unbiased decision, which is exactly what free will suggests. It is impossible to do, and because of this, free will does not exist."

Unbiased:having an expected value equal to a population parameter being estimated
http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Go back to the link. Oh wait there is one above this. Click on it. You can either click on it to check that my source is correct or you may not click on it because you don't want to feel controlled. Again you are faced with a decision of an expected equal priority and until the choice is made the chances are 50/50. This is an example of free will.

In Conclusion...
I still believe that free will must exist due to the parameters of life and the decisions we must make. I look forward to my opponents response.
Debate Round No. 4
TheRussian

Con

I thank my opponent for his speedy response.

The first half of my opponent's argument in the last round is nothing new as we simply cannot reconcile our views here. I say that there is a cause for everything and he agrees, BUT he is suggesting that we can use our "free will" to weigh these causes and "choose" which course of action to take. I again will make the argument that your "choice" depends on what you want, and what you want is determined by already present factors. If you are bored and you're feeling hyper because you drank some coffee, then you'd "choose" the more active course of action. I could go on with more hypothetical factors, but I'd be repeating the same idea I've presented repeatedly in this debate.

"Why would your parents and their parents before have a different belief from others if free will doesn't exist? If free will did not exist we would all act the same in situations. We don't and this means that free will exists."
Because my I grew up in a different society from my parents, and my parents grew up in a different society from their parents. The environment is different, which causes similar, yet different beliefs. No, the lack of free will doesn't mean we would all act the same in a similar situation because each one of us is different as a result of being shaped by different environments and genetics.

"You say there is always a reason. well of course there is a reason but since reasons differ we must have free will."
No. Reasons that push a person to a decision are different because people are different as a result of developing in varying conditions. What one person considers a valid idea or reason to do something may be totally revoked by you because you grew up in different conditions than that person, which shaped your beliefs which then shapes your thoughts and actions.

"Right now the chances are 50/50. You may not click on it because I told you and you don't want to feel controlled by me, or you may click on it because your curious."
I feel like this is a poor example. My chances of clicking on it are more like 99/1 and that 1 only exists if I don't trust you and think you want to get a virus on my computer. As I am a trusting and slightly naive person, I clicked on the link without a second thought as soon as I saw it.

"You can either click on it to check that my source is correct or you may not click on it because you don't want to feel controlled."
No, there is little choice going on here as well because as soon as I read the definition, I did not agree with it and therefore wanted to check your source and possibly present what is in my eyes a better definition. Now that I've checked, your definition for "unbiased" is a poor one because it applies to statistics. The definition of the word that is applicable in our situation is: "not biased or prejudiced; fair; impartial"
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Because of our natural biases that are instilled by our environment and genetics, we CANNOT make an impartial decision. As a result, there is no real decision-making going on.

I am very disappointed that my opponent ignored my question about the cockroach that I presented in the last round as this would've been very crucial to the conclusion of this debate. If my opponent thinks that the cockroach does NOT have free will to really "choose", they he must admit that we don't have free will to "choose" in his hypothetical scenario with the pens, as the two situations are equivalent. Considering his religion, Christianity, he can't really say that the cockroach DOES have free will because then the cockroach can go to hell or heaven and then that creates a whole realm of problems for the Christian faith system. Putting his religion aside, however, he still cannot say that the cockroach has free will because that will essentially mean that ALL organisms have free will and don't act solely on stimulus-response instincts (which is clearly false). One can't say that a flea or bacterium has free will. Perhaps my opponent would like to say that only SOME organisms have free will, and then he would have to draw the line between organisms that do and don't have free will and explain why. It seems that the LACK of free will is clearly a better solution. We are no better than the other organisms in this world, so why would we have free will if they don't? Yes, we have more developed brains, but chimps have very developed brains as well...so do only animals with a certain level of intelligence have free will? Where is the line between "too unintelligent to have free will" and "intelligent enough to have free will"? This also seems silly because in the animal world, instinct is crucial to survival which doesn't really involve any choosing. To conclude this paragraph, my opponent can't say that the cockroach has free will to choose and as a result, cannot say that we humans have free will to choose unless he gives a very good reason for it.

Overall, I remain vastly unconvinced of anything like free will existing. It seems that we simply cannot make a "decision" without bias, which means there is no free will. Nevertheless, I thank my opponent for this discussion and look forward to seeing him on the debating battlefield another time.
Briannj17

Pro

Well it's too bad I cannot change your mind. I still firmly believe we have free will and nothing anybody says will change that. Anyways let's get down to work....

"I again will make the argument that your "choice" depends on what you want, and what you want is determined by already present factors."

Your choice doesn't always depend on what you want. You could want a dozen candy bars while your in a convenience store but you realize you have not enough money. You can choose not to take it or you can choose to steal them. Either way, you still want the candy bars. Again you are saying there is a reason for everything. Of course you say this. You can say there is a reason for my hair being black you can say there is a reason for the different sizes of my fingers, you can give everything a reason! I'm saying free will is about choices and in our heads or not we make choices and therefore we make our own choices at our own discretion.

"No, the lack of free will doesn't mean we would all act the same in a similar situation because each one of us is different as a result of being shaped by different environments and genetics."

Really? Take it back to your evolutionary theory. We all came from a common ancestor. (I don't believe in this but I'm sure a majority does)
"Scientists agree that our early ancestors, Homo erectus, first appeared in Africa 1"2 million years ago. They spread throughout the world and evolved into ancient humans. Most believe that modern humans evolved in Africa, and gradually replaced all the other ancient humans."
http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk...

Now if we derived from a common ancestor and free will never existed why do we see all the beleifs in the world?
http://www.religionfacts.com...

As a matter of fact some of our openness to certain beliefs are carried in our DNA.
http://www.lifehack.org...
https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org...
This shows that at some point one of our ancestors or one of us MADE A CHOICE and changed our DNA. GOing against your argument.

"What one person considers a valid idea or reason to do something may be totally revoked by you because you grew up in different conditions than that person, which shaped your beliefs which then shapes your thoughts and actions."

Quite the lazy rebuttal. If you grew up in different conditions why? Because of your parent and the parents before and the parents before until somewhere we meet a crossroad where someone chose on THEIR OWN free will to change beliefs. That's free will in motion.

"As I am a trusting and slightly naive person, I clicked on the link without a second thought as soon as I saw it."

You can put a reason on any decision. But you made a choice on your own and that is free will.

"Because of our natural biases that are instilled by our environment and genetics, we CANNOT make an impartial decision. As a result, there is no real decision-making going on."

Another weak argument. There is decision making going on otherwise we would see no change! It took man many years to come up with the wheel. Since we see change there is decision making going on.
http://theyoungsocrates.com...

"There are always reasons. How about this, do animals have free will? If I put a cockroach the same distance from two equally sized items of food and he "picks" one, did he demonstrate free will?"

Free will: The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one"s own discretion.
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com......

Yes by definition it chose with no outside help therefore it chose at it's own discretion.

"Considering his religion, Christianity, he can't really say that the cockroach DOES have free will because then the cockroach can go to hell or heaven and then that creates a whole realm of problems for the Christian faith system."

I never read that cockroaches or any animal doesn't have free will in the bible. But I do remember a certain serpent who made a choice and changed the world as we know it. Who knows the will of God? Maybe cockroaches do go to hell or heaven maybe they don't but they still can have free will, who knows? What I do know is by definition cockroaches have free will.

"Putting his religion aside, however, he still cannot say that the cockroach has free will because that will essentially mean that ALL organisms have free will and don't act solely on stimulus-response instincts (which is clearly false)."

No examples? Really? If you but any organism in the scenario I have just laid out and they make a choice, by the definition lain out that organism has free will.

"Yes, we have more developed brains, but chimps have very developed brains as well...so do only animals with a certain level of intelligence have free will? Where is the line between "too unintelligent to have free will" and "intelligent enough to have free will"?"

Okay use my scenario and by definition if they make a choice it's by their own discretion which proves the existence of free will.

"This also seems silly because in the animal world, instinct is crucial to survival which doesn't really involve any choosing."

There are times of instinct, we can tell when that happens. Your son or daughter trapped under a gate or heavy object we go into a fit of instinct. Since their is a difference between instinct and normal it makes free will..."Un-silly".
http://www.esotericonline.net...

In Conclusion...

One of the toughest debates I've been in. Thank you. I am sorry I could not change your mind before but maybe now?
I still firmly believe that free will exists. My name is Brian N. Johnson and I hope I gave you one to remember.
Debate Round No. 5
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Briannj17 9 months ago
Briannj17
You mean not forfeit? I NEVER forfeit without an IMPORTANT issue.
Posted by TheRussian 9 months ago
TheRussian
@CodingSource What are you talking about?
Posted by CodingSource 9 months ago
CodingSource
Too bad you didn't do the same for our debate :( I totally believe that we have free will.
Posted by TheRussian 9 months ago
TheRussian
"...still firmly believe we have free will and nothing anybody says will change that."
That's called complete ignorance.
Posted by TheRussian 9 months ago
TheRussian
That was dumb of me lol here:https://en.wikipedia.org...
Posted by TheRussian 9 months ago
TheRussian
@Furyan Look up the neurology of free will, it's quite interesting as well.
Posted by TheRussian 9 months ago
TheRussian
Once again, I completely agree. That's pretty much the thing that has made me feel better about he situation, that I'll I'm doing is just enjoying the ride.
Posted by Furyan5 9 months ago
Furyan5
LOL don't worry too much about the puppet bit. Even if fate decided i must have chocolate cake, it still tastes good. Life is about enjoying the experience.
Posted by TheRussian 9 months ago
TheRussian
And I totally agree, I hate the idea but keep coming back to the same conclusion :P
Posted by TheRussian 9 months ago
TheRussian
Precisely my point @Furyan
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