The Instigator
CalvinAndHobbes
Con (against)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
KeytarHero
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points

Existence of Human Freewill

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
CalvinAndHobbes
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/26/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,702 times Debate No: 22338
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (3)

 

CalvinAndHobbes

Con

Pro will argue for an existence of freewill.
Burden of Proof is shared.
1st Round is for acceptance.

This is not a semantics argument but the definition of freewill is provided below.
Freewill-"capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Thanks in Advance!
KeytarHero

Pro

I accept the debate. As instigator, Con bears the burden of proof that humans do not have free will. I accept Con's definition of free will as proposed in round one.

I will await Con's opening argument.
Debate Round No. 1
CalvinAndHobbes

Con

Thanks for taking up this debate. However, it was clearly stated that burden of proof was to be shared. Also the Existence of Freewill is a posivitive assertion, the side that traditional takes burden of proof. Since I don't intend to sleaze my way out of providing evidence, I suggest we leave it up to the voters in the end. I'll go forward with my argument assuming a shared burden of proof.

A Chain of Reactions

Every action has a related cause. The universe is defined by deterministic reactions on an atomic level and indeterministic reactions on a sub-atomic level.

Deterministic Reaction: An occurrence that had a previous cause.

Indeterminsitic Reaction: An occurrence that is purely random.

On the most rudimentary level every action starts out as a wavefunction. These wavefunctions are entirely random so there existence is defined by probability. Since there are multiple wavefunctions these random actions are limited by the surrounding wavefunctions. Eventually these reactions crossover to the atomic level, from this point every action is determined by a previous reaction.

Since thought is merely the advanced chemical reactions of synapses firing, there can be no free-willed thought.

Rejection of the Collapse of Wavefunctions by Human Observation

One argument for maintaining freewill is that wavefunctions remain in their probabilistic state until exposed to observation. This concept depends on multiple logical fallacies. Every reaction is created equal, so there is no reason to assume a particular reaction has any ability greater than to interact with other reactions.

Humans are limited by the Laws of Physics so there is no reason to assume humans have any influence by observation outside the Laws of Physics. Humans’ ability to observe any action is based off their senses. Human senses are based off physical reactions, thus we must treat humans like any other collective of matter. Since matter always follows the Laws of Physics even, if humans did collapse wave functions the wave functions that their existence would collapse would be determined by previous reactions. This again eliminates the possibility of freewill.

Paradigms and other Influences

As humans we are exposed to many variables throughout our lives. In every instance we are exposed to numerous variables that will alter our behavior. Since exposure alters our actions, it consequently limits our free will. For example, the force of paradigm: A child raised by their parents assumes many of their parent’s values. These values effect the child’s behavior, thus the will to commit behavior is not originating from the child. Humans live multidimensional lives and thus have many outside variables influencing their behavior. Since there are an infinitive number of things that we are exposed to, we are again left with no freewill.

Sources

Determinism: http://www.wisdomsupreme.com...

Indeterminism: http://www.wisdomsupreme.com...

Wave Functions: http://www.britannica.com...

Collapse of Wave Functions: http://physicstoday.org...

Quantum Physics: http://www.britannica.com...

KeytarHero

Pro

Apologies to Con. I missed where he indicated burden of proof would be shared.

It is debatable which side usually takes the burden of proof, but it seems to me more reasonable that the one making the claim is the one who has the burden of proof, especially if the one making the claim is arguing against the status quo. I must commend Con; I didn't think it possible to argue against free will with a purely secular argument. However, it seems to me that free will is the default position. After all, ask almost anyone if they make choices freely and they will say yes. If you are going to show that the choices we make which appear to be free are, in fact, not free, you must show why they are not free.

We make free choices all the time. If you set a candy bar and a piece of celery in front of a child and ask them to choose one, they will just about every time choose the candy bar. It is chocolate and tastes good. However, if you train your child to eat healthy things over unhealthy, they would eat the celery. The first would be an example of nature; the second, of nurture. But what of an adult who knows better but eats the chocolate anyway? They know the celery is better for them, but they can still indulge themselves in something sweet or choose a third option which you may not have even offered them. They may choose not to eat either one or go to Subway and get a sandwich. They have made the choice freely.

If you give the child a choice between the chocolate and celery but tell them they'll be grounded for a week unless they eat the celery, this would be an example of coercion. If they eat the celery under duress, they are still making a free choice despite being forced into it. They are choosing to obey and be rewarded rather than disobey and be punished (and we all know that children do make choices which get them punished, even knowing full well they will be punished afterward).

A Chain of Reactions

Con has tried to use science to prove his case but the reality of the situation is you can't use science to prove morality. Science can tell us that you just killed a human being, but it can't tell us that it was wrong to kill that human being. Only a standard of morality can do that, and humans have long argued over what is moral and what isn't.

Con asserts that if random things occur in nature, then our actions are also random. This doesn't seem to add up. Even if you take God out of the equation and we are just the result of a random accident, our decisions are not predetermined. Humans have developed systems of morality, even contradictory systems of morality. If we are all a result of random processes and have no choice in the matter, we would all develop the same moral principles.

Additionally, Con is asserting the Copenhagen of quantum mechanics but has not shown why the Copenhagen interpretation is superior over all other interpretations. It is merely an assertion that the wavefunctions are random, especially since there is a scientific principle of causality which says that nothing cannot produce something (that is, non-being cannot produce being).

Paradigms and Other Influences

I have already responded to nature versus nurture earlier in my argument. Our free will is not limited by our environment. For example, someone raised in a strict Christian household could grow up to become a devout Christian, but another child raised in that same household can grow up rebellious, upset at the strict upbringing she had to endure. Con even admits that free will is "limited", not negated altogether in his argument, then contradicts himself by saying we are left with no free will. He has not adequately proven that we don't have free will. Saying we have "some" free will is different from saying we have "no" free will.
Debate Round No. 2
CalvinAndHobbes

Con

Pro states that it is logical to assume freewill, however since the majority of this argument is Ad Populous it has limited credibility. Also to clarify; I am not arguing that people don’t think that they have freewill, but that the freewill they perceive is an illusion.

A Chain of Reactions

Pro misconstrues morality to be equal to free will. With Pro’s example of killing a human being free will addresses if you actually had control of your actions whereas morality addresses if it was just according to philosophy. Thus, Pro’s point that “you can’t use science to prove morality” is deemed irrelevant.


Pro suggests that I claim “if random things occur in nature, then our actions are also random”, this is either a strawman argument or a misunderstanding. I make no such claim, but assert the concept that every action is caused by a previous reaction. My inclusion of details on Indeterminism was to address objections that come about from the study of quantum physics. Since the freewill applications of indeterminism are unnecessary for my argument to remain logical I will elaborate no further on quantum physics for clarity’s sake. I would like to note that this is not a concession but an attempt to make this debate more accessible.

Pro then statesIf we are all a result of random processes and have no choice in the matter, we would all develop the same moral principles. Again morality is not equal to freewill. Humans come into existence in very different environments and with different genetic code, two things humans don’t perceive to have control over, so it is an irrational assumption that humans would end up being identical if there was no freewill.

Paradigms and Other Influences

Pro has taken my points out of context and consequently missed my argument entirely. Here is what Pro claims:

“Con even admits that free will is "limited", not negated altogether in his argument, then contradicts himself by saying we are left with no free will. He has not adequately proven that we don't have free will. Saying we have "some" free will is different from saying we have "no" free will.

And now here is the passage Pro is referencing:

“Since exposure alters our actions, it consequently limits our free will. Since there are an infinitive number of things that we are exposed to, we are again left with no freewill.”

It is clear that Pro’s objections are irrelevant and thus the argument stands.

To Summarize…

The Scientific Argument:

  1. A. The way humans process thought must be within the laws of physics
  2. B. The laws of physics require every action to have a cause, to quote pro “non-being cannot produce being
  3. C. Since the matter inside humans does not have freewill, humans cannot have freewill

The Social Argument:

  1. A. Exposure to the environment alters our behavior
  2. B. Since our behavior is altered, the number of courses of action we can choose from is reduced, by definition limiting our freewill
  3. C. There are infinitive ways our behavior is altered, thus were are left with no freewill

Thanks again, I wait my opponent’s response.

KeytarHero

Pro

Con has ignored my argument in support of free will. As such, I extend my arguments into the next round. Since Con indicated that burden of proof is shared, it is puzzling why he would ignore my argument in support of free will.

A Chain of Reactions

My point that science does not determine morality was to show that our morals do not develop as a result of scientific processes. If they did, every culture would develop the same code of morality. Some argue that morality is only developed through evolutionary processes; that someone's morality is determined by how best to survive. But this does not follow, since there are those who would give their own lives to help a stranger (e.g. police officers), and there are those who believe it is better to give than to receive, which goes against the "survival of the fittest" mentality. The fact that we can, and do, choose actions which are selfless proves that our morality is not determined by scientific processes and therefore, we are able to make decisions which go against our mere nature, or even our nurture.

It is in our nature to survive, yet a mother will go hungry to feed her starving children. Some people are taught morality by their parents, yet they still grow up and reject the teachings of their parents while their siblings may grow up and embrace the teachings of their parents
It is curious that Con would accuse me of taking his words out of context, then do the very same to me. When I said that non-being cannot produce being, that was in response to his using "wavefunctions" to show why humans don't have free will. The Copenhagen interpretation is but one interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, and Con apparently does not deem it fit to explain himself or support this interpretation as the superior one.

Additionally, Con's syllogism is invalid (and, by extension, unsound). His conclusion, C, does not follow from the premises, A and B. Matter is inanimate, therefore it cannot have a will. However, we, as humans, are animate creatures. We do things on our own, without the need of outside intervention. We rely on our bodies and our internal organs to function. As conscious, sentient beings, we have the capacity to make rational decisions freely. It does not follow that we, as rational beings, have no free will simply because our bodies it made up of inanimate matter.

Paradigms and Other Influences

Putting this argument into a syllogism has made his argument more clear, so I appreciate that.

However, his argument is still a non-sequitur. First, having an infinite number in reality is simply impossible. Take Hilbert's Hotel, for example. If a hotel with an infinite number of rooms were to exist, and every room is full, it could not logically accommodate any new guests. Yet if there is an infinite number of rooms, you should be able to accommodate one more person by shifting everyone over a room. It is a logical impossibility since you would not be able to accommodate any new guests and you would always be able to accommodate one more guest. It is not possible that we are influenced by an infinite number of ways our behavior is altered.

Additionally, people can and do choose actions which go against their nature, and people can and do choose actions which go against their nurture.

Even if someone's behavior is altered, as Con asserts in premise B, it doesn't follow that they still don't have a choice. If I grow up to believe that adultery is wrong and I get married, I can still be tempted by a member of the opposite sex and it still might be possible for me to fall into temptation and commit adultery. I grew up being conditioned to believe that adultery is wrong, but that doesn't preclude the possibility of being tempted by it or giving in to temptation and committing it. And it certainly doesn't reduce the number of choices we have, as premise B asserts.
Debate Round No. 3
CalvinAndHobbes

Con

Pro claims I have ignored his argument for free will. I had addressed his claims in the following passage:


“Pro states that it is logical to assume freewill, however since the majority of this argument is Ad Populous it has limited credibility.“


I elaborate on my point. Pro’s whole claim of why freewill exists is a matter of opinion. He gives examples of why he feels that freewill exists and examples of why most people feel that freewill exists. As stated before this is an Argumentum ad populum and thus should be dismissed.


A Chain of Reactions


Pro claims “morals do not develop as a result of scientific processes.” I argue that humans are bound by the laws of physics and thus if humans do have this idea of morals, it would be the result of scientific processes. Pro goes on to say that if all actions were the result of scientific processes “every culture would develop the same code of morality. Some argue that morality is only developed through evolutionary processes”. This is an irrational and somewhat irrelevant assumption. Cultures are not bound to make decisions as a collective; instead cultures as a whole are influenced by the action of people within them. Again Pro has failed to distinguish between freewill an morality. Freewill is the ability to choose a course of action; morality is simply part of the illusion of freewill. Since we do not write our morality it is not something we can choose and since we cannot choose it, it acts as something controlling and influencing our actions. Pro has already objected to this concept by giving an example:


“If I grow up to believe that adultery is wrong and I get married,... it still might be possible for me to fall into temptation and commit adultery. I grew up being conditioned to believe that adultery is wrong, but that doesn't preclude the possibility of being tempted by it or giving in to temptation and committing it.”


Pro states that his sense of morality tells him adultery is wrong. Morality is one’s sense of right and wrong, what one will or will not do. But empirical evidence contradicts him. If he does commit adultery then his morality clearly does not tell him adultery is wrong. I will assume that Pro makes the objection that it’s possible to know something as wrong yet still do it anyway. So if our actions are not purely governed by morality, they must be influenced by something else. The something else that determines our actions is our environment and since our environment shaped this so called morality in the first place it there was never freewill to begin with.


To clean up this argument since it’s becoming abstract:


1) Human actions are influenced


2) An influence must result from something that exists


3) Physical entities exist: The Environment, DNA, etc.


4) Choice cannot be proven to exist, thus its existence must be assumed


5) Ockham’s Razor, least assumptions most likely


6) It is there for more likely that actions are determined by physical entities, than choice



Paradigms and Other Influences



Pro’s entire argument falls on this point:


“People can and do choose actions which go against their nature, and people can and do choose actions which go against their nurture”




This is false. A person's nature can only be seen by their actions, and consequently Pro’s entire argument is void.


The following puts in motion the act:


DNA


The job the father had


The job mother had


People that worked with parents


The house floorplan


The neighborhood


What the child had for lunch


Every person in kindergarten


Every person in their middle school, high school, collage


That’s over 10 incredibly vague variables, now assuming each variable is dynamic to at least 10 variables. Now assume there are only 312,000,000 dynamic variables, not a very big number just the population of the United States. This could really be any number you want. That’s 10^312,000,000 http://www.wolframalpha.com...


Infinitive influences exist, thus argument stands.

KeytarHero

Pro

My argument for free will does not boil down to an argument ad populous. We see that we have choices in every day life. If someone makes the claim that those choices are in fact not free, they bear the burden of proof. For example, I have a free choice of what to eat for lunch. I love to try new things. But according to Con's argument, I have no choice in what to eat for lunch, that what I'm going to eat for lunch all boils down to what's in my nature or what I've been programmed to enjoy. He has not shown that I'm a slave to nature or nurture in this argument and so has not met the burden of proof. I have shown in my opening argument how the choices we make are free, so therefore I have met my burden (think back to my example about nature versus nurture, the candy bar versus celery example -- this was not an example from personal opinion so I again extend this argument as it has not been responded to).
A Chain of Reactions

Con says that "cultures are not bound to make decisions as a collective," which is true if we have free will. However, if we don't have free will then, again, everyone who grows up in a particular culture would all hold to the same standard of morality. There's just no getting around that, no matter how hard Con tries. If these people all have the same natural processes that get them to where they are, then they would have no choice but to follow the same standards.

Additionally, Con's response to my argument about adultery is absurd. I believe that adultery is morally wrong, but that doesn't mean that I couldn't in some point in time in the future fall into temptation and commit adultery. If I were, Con believes that I wouldn't really believe that adultery is wrong. This is ridiculous, as I know what I believe. And if I were to commit adultery, I would feel guilty afterward, thereby confirming that my belief is that adultery is wrong.

So again, Con's argument is invalid. Not all human actions are influenced and even if they are, that does not preclude us acting against what we believe to be true.

Choice can also be proven to exist. I showed in my opening argument that we do have choices and we can make them freely.

Also, Occam's Razor does not meant that the simplest explanation must be the correct one. Additionally, it often results in the logical fallacy of shifting the burden of proof. [1]

Con's argument has been shown to be invalid and therefore unsound.

Paradigm and Other Influences

Con asserts that my argument is void, but in reality it is not. While a person's actions may be observed by how he grew up, the person himself knows whether his nature or nurture, or neither, supports his actions. Again, there are people who go against their nature or their nurture. The ability for others to observe it is irrelevant. Again, I extend my arguments. I have shown that nature or nurture doesn't automatically determine one's nature, since siblings who are raised the same way can grow up to be very different people.

Con has also not shown that infinity exists in reality. Infinity is an abstract amount that doesn't exist in reality, and the math problem that Con used last round was also an abstract amount. Con gave vague descriptions of people who could have an influence on someone, but this doesn't mean that person's influence will stick and it also doesn't account for the people whose influence would be exactly the same.

I have shown that we do, indeed, make free choices and Con has not adequately refuted that, nor has he met his burden of proof. Please vote Pro. That is, if you can make the free choice to do so.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
So Rational, in other words you vote bombed me so that Con would win.

You indicated that if Con had burden of proof, I would have won for sure. However, burden of proof was shared so, by your admission, we should have tied because Con failed to meet his burden of proof as well.
Posted by The_Fool_on_the_hill 4 years ago
The_Fool_on_the_hill
Its only if you worry that your argument is not sound that your should have any worry.
Posted by The_Fool_on_the_hill 4 years ago
The_Fool_on_the_hill
I think its valid to have a post-defence. some voters want to ask questions. Voters get a chance to ask some questions. as long as you don't make new claims.
Posted by CalvinAndHobbes 4 years ago
CalvinAndHobbes
Hate to troll, but if I thought my argument was solid I wouldn't bother with an obnoxious opponent trying to sway voters to his side.

I'm sure it would actually make the voters prone to favoring the opposite side, right?
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Yes, inappropriate. You had your chance to argue. By continuing to argue here you are trying to get an extra chance to sway peoples' opinions. It is not appropriate.
Posted by CalvinAndHobbes 4 years ago
CalvinAndHobbes
Inappropriate?
You are not expected to respond to anything said as commentary so I don't see the problem. I can make observations as any other viewer.
Posted by KeytarHero 4 years ago
KeytarHero
Calvin, it's inappropriate to continue the debate in the comments.

Also, 16k, why do you vote if you don't give anyone points?
Posted by CalvinAndHobbes 4 years ago
CalvinAndHobbes
Pro also neatly managed to skip over any mention of DNA. If someone would lie to explain the validity of Pro's closing argument as I can not see any value in it other than an attempt at deception.
Posted by CalvinAndHobbes 4 years ago
CalvinAndHobbes
"Con gave vague descriptions of people who could have an influence on someone, but this doesn't mean that person's influence will stick and it also doesn't account for the people whose influence would be exactly the same." This is faking ignorance and is a blatant abuse of using the last word to your advantage. Of course every person you meet as an effect on you, by definition since you meet them you had a conversation with them that would have not been possible if they didn't exist.
Posted by Nur-Ab-Sal 4 years ago
Nur-Ab-Sal
It seems like that when discussing experiments im biology or even astronomy, but experiments in quantum mechanics are a bit different because they are so small, allowing the system to be closed easily. These experiments are also sound mathematically.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Rational_Thinker9119 4 years ago
Rational_Thinker9119
CalvinAndHobbesKeytarHeroTied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Since the burden was shared, this was a pretty clear win for Con. Even though morality and free will may go hand in hand they are not the same thing, so using morality as a foundation for a rebuttal didn't really accomplish much on Pro's behalf. Pro's argument that most people believe they have free will so the burden is on the one making the claim was irrelevant, because Con clearly stated the burden was shared in the debate. If Con had the burden, then Pro would have won for sure. Sources=Con
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
CalvinAndHobbesKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: -
Vote Placed by SuburbiaSurvivor 4 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
CalvinAndHobbesKeytarHeroTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con failed to prove free will doesn't exist. Pro gave good arguments.