The Instigator
MrDebitCredit0995
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
phantom
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

"Free Will" do exist

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
phantom
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/4/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,753 times Debate No: 27816
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

MrDebitCredit0995

Pro

The debate will circulate all about "Free Will" - is there anything called as "Free Will", or it is just a "fantasy" by those who believe?

I am happy for who will accept my challenge.

The points are:
- What is the definition of "Free Will" (Own definition and definition from other source)
- How can you say it does not exist?
- Cite proofs to support your claims

Con can take the first step :)
phantom

Con

I assume my opponent means "free-will does exist" rather than "free-will do exist".


"“Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives."

-Stanford Encyopedia of philosophy


C.1 All acts are causally determined or random leaving no room for free-will


Determined acts are acts brought about by the laws of causality and nature. Each action has a reaction/affect leading to other actions and so on. So one such pseudo-choice would be simply brought about by previous reactions in your body, brain and externally that you had no control over. Even conscious events would be included in this causal process. For example, evaluating what burger to buy could have many conscious but still causal influences. One thought leads to another after all. Causality entails inevitability. One accumulation of effects must result in one single possible reaction and so on. Therefore the effect that occurred all the way towards the beginning of the causal chain resulted in an inevitable chain of events. We can’t possibly have control over nor be conscious of the early cause and effects so we can’t possibly have free-will for determined actions.


Random acts are those that somehow escape the laws of causality and happen merely by chance and unpredictably, such as a quantum neurological events in your brain. Those even more obviously cannot leave room for free-will because randomness is entirely uncontrollable. So random acts and causal acts quite obviously cannot include free-will. Those are the only acts that happen, so free-will is eliminated. A persons mind and character and actions are all decided upon internal influences such as genetic and biological and external influences such as environmental. We are merely the sum of the molecular positions of our body and the vastly complex ordering of nerves and atoms. Most probably there are thousands of tiny direct miniature causes that affect one act a person commits. In the vast sum of things that number could be incredibly more large when we consider the chain of cause and effect could stem all the way back to even the big-bang. Caused and random events are the only events that occur and both exclude free-will.


Suppose a single random event in your brain causes you to lurch your arm into the air. Would anyone say that was a free act of choice? Obviously not. You had no control over it. It just happened at random. Suppose in another scenario aliens had taken control of your mind and were influencing your body to cause you to make choices that you thought you were making freely. That also would obviously not be free-will either. So any libertarian or compatibilist can agree with us here but in reality things aren’t much different. Aliens may not control us but our acts are still determined by our physical makeup. It’s like a machine operating according to its mechanical build. Humans are just the same; simply mechanistic creatures. Our actions are bound by our chemistry and the world around us. It just happens that we have the illusion of free-will. In the first two scenarios I posted, we had all the influences before us so that it was obvious it wasn’t free-will. One reason why free-will is such an illusion is because the vast majority of influences we are entirely unconscious of. If we had a map and explanation for every single influence that caused us to make a choice, I make the confident guess that free-will would be just as evidently false as with the first two analogies. Most of what causes us to act is entirely out of our realm of detection.

When pondering what to buy and not to buy at the grocery store, a basic cost/benefit analysis is taking place in your brain so that in the end, your choice is wholly decided by your natural preferences, character, genetics, whatever mood you happened to be in that day, what your surroundings were and more. If the cost is a little high, you'll only buy it if you have enough money or are someone who is a naturally uncautious buyer. Many other factors way in. We can easily accept the fact that we are born with a personality consisting of a blend of thousands of different tiny character traits. As our character determines what we do, we can extrapolate our actions are based upon what properties we are born with. Our personality then shapes according to social and environmental factors throughout our life. Everything we do is decided by our physical makeup and the world around us. This leaves free-will as an impossibility. If our acts aren’t triggered, they’re random. Those are the only two possibilities.



C.2 Free-will is an incoherent concept



It’s impossible to really conceive what free-will actually is. Take any action and ask what it was. Was it caused or random? Both those options are certainly possible and conceivable but it’s hard to imagine any other option. It’s one reason why free-will is so hard to define even for libertarians. All acts come down to the laws of causality (determinism) or random chance (indeterminacy). Thus all acts arise from the laws of nature and are bound by them, making nothing free. Random actions escape the laws of causality but what can escape the laws of causality and randomness? What possible physical action in this universe is neither random nor caused? And how exactly does a physical action occur without something to make it occur and not being random? Things don’t happen by themselves unless through randomness. If they do happen because of something then that’s causality and we’re back at the problem. Considering these thoughts, free-will merely seems as some magical concept. We can’t really define what it is and what it means to act freely. Part of cons burden is to set up a coherent concept of what free-will is. Otherwise he cannot win the debate.



C.3 ‘Choices’ are shown to be made before the agent is conscious of them


In tests, neuroscientists have detected actions a person makes moments before he is even conscious of them. It’s one thing when we’re conscious of decisions but when we act before consciousness of the decision takes place, free-will entirely leaves the picture.

“He wired people to an electroencephalogram and measured when they reported having a particular conscious thought about an action [...] and when the actual action started. Astoundingly, the latter came first: that is, subjects had actually made (unconsciously) the decision to act measurably earlier than when they became aware of it consciously. The conscious awareness, in a sense, was a "story" that the higher cognitive parts of the brain told to account for the action. It's as if the conscious brain was not the decider but simply the spokesperson.”


http://files.meetup.com...

“Libet asked his experimental subjects to move one hand at an arbitrary moment decided by them, and to report when they made the decision (they timed the decision by noticing the position of a dot circling a clock face). At the same time the electrical activity of their brain was monitored. Now it had already been established by much earlier research that consciously-chosen actions are preceded by a pattern of activity known as a Readiness Potential (or RP). The surprising result was that the reported time of each decision was consistently a short period (some tenths of a second)after the RP appeared. This seems to prove that the supposedly conscious decisions had actually been determined unconsciously beforehand.”


http://www.consciousentities.com...;

Debate Round No. 1
MrDebitCredit0995

Pro

"Free Will" does not mean, "no limitation", free will means to think freely. You think freely, there is free will. You cannot control the outside environment, agreed. But it does not remove free will in us.

"Free will", for me, is freely thinking, though, it has limits. In other words, you are free in a limited capacity.

"Suppose a single random event in your brain causes you to lurch your arm into the air. Would anyone say that was a free act of choice? Obviously not. You had no control over it. It just happened at random. Suppose in another scenario aliens had taken control of your mind and were influencing your body to cause you to make choices that you thought you were making freely. That also would obviously not be free-will either."

This is what we call, "voluntary" movements, right? You can actually "defy" those, though its hard. Try to "contradict" your brain. Suppose, you are right handed, try to write on the left.
phantom

Con

My opponents initial remarks are a straw man. I never defined free-will as having no limitation as he says. Viewers can refer to my definition that I posted and it clearly does not entail that nor do my arguments assume it.

Pro argues that we do have freedom but does not say how. I already demonstrated that determinacy and indeterminacy alleviate freedom as well as positing that they were the only type of events that occur. Pro hasn't disputed that dichotomy nor has he shown how free-will could exist within it.

My opponent quotes a large section of my post and responds but misunderstands its purpose. It was an analogy to demonstrate that when all the influences are laid before us, we can easily tell none of our acts free and that all acts we make are not, in any important way, much different.

As it stands, pro has failed to refute determinism and indeterminacy, thus conceding that all acts are either caused or random.

Pro has not explained how free-will can exist with the only acts we make being causal or random.

Pro has not offered a coherent explanation of what free-will is.

Pro has offered literally zero evidence against my last contention that science shows our brain makes the decision to act before we're even conscious of it.


Disappointing round. Pro hasn't put in the effort.
Debate Round No. 2
MrDebitCredit0995

Pro

Sorry for not having too much text on the previous round, for I was sick. Though, I don't want Con to wait too much, so, I "force" myself to rebut, even when I do not feel well. Anyway, let me just give my point again in a very detail manner, as how Con did in Round 1.

I admit that some of my statements were not that "clear", so, let us just start from the beginning.

Free Will, by definition,
"Free will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. In philosophy, the constraint of dominant concern has been nomological determinism, the notion that the past and the present dictate the future entirely and necessarily, that every occurrence results inevitably from prior events. However, many others define free will without reference to determinism, and posit that freedom from other types of constraints is more relevant, such as physical constraints (e.g. chains or imprisonment), social constraints (e.g. threat of punishment or censure), or mental constraints (e.g. compulsions or phobias, neurological disorders, or genetic predispositions)." - Wikipedia.

Free will do have many point of views from different fields like religion, politics, science, etc. However, let us take it in general.

On my point of view, "Free will" is the ability to think freely, despite of the "limitations" we have.

Now, to understand why free will exist, let us understand why some does not believe in it:
Let us just based on Con:

"C.1 All acts are causally determined or random leaving no room for free-will

Determined acts are acts brought about by the laws of causality and nature. Each action has a reaction/affect leading to other actions and so on. So one such pseudo-choice would be simply brought about by previous reactions in your body, brain and externally that you had no control over. Even conscious events would be included in this causal process. For example, evaluating what burger to buy could have many conscious but still causal influences. One thought leads to another after all. Causality entails inevitability. One accumulation of effects must result in one single possible reaction and so on."

That is the usual response, but not all people are "chained" in the "action/reaction" effect. Also, they still have the choice, decisions to make. One reason why people does not believe in free will is because, they do believe in "predestined future". I believe it, too, in some point. But, we are talking about choices and decision, and there is free will. We have "limitations", like "predestined future", but despite of that, we still have the free will. For free will does not affect our future. From the word itself, "will", meaning, it is what you want, but it does not affect our future unless actions are taken, and even if actions are taken, sometimes, our will won't happen if "interference" will come. Still, that does not take our free will.

"C.2 Free-will is an incoherent concept"
From my own definition, "Free will is the ability to think, despite of the limits we have." I apply it to all the field like Religion and Politics.

Religion/faith(Christianity):
I can blaspheme God whenever I want even when I am a Christian, but, I cannot change the fact that I will go to hell when I blaspheme Him (Just an example) I have the ability to think anything about God, but it does not change my "fate", that is where "limitation" comes.

Politics:
Simple as defying the law, but I cannot change the fact that I will be imprisoned for it.

"C.3 "Choices" are shown to be made before the agent is conscious of them"

You still have the control over it. For example, I have to decide a course: Accountancy or Entrepreneurship.

Sometimes, one of them may "pop" on my mind, but before taking it, I still have the control to decide or "re-decide" before taking an action.

Second, some "pop out" thoughts are not even wanted, they just simply "pop" in your mind.
phantom

Con


C.1 All acts are causally determined or random leaving no room for free-will


Pro says, "not all people are "chained" in the "action/reaction" effect." He does literally nothing to demonstrate this assertion. Note how pro hasn't even argued against my reasoning that all acts are either causal or random. How then can he say not every one is bound in such a way? All acts are determined or random (not disputed). Determined acts leave no room for free-will because your decision is inevitable before you were even conscious of it. Random acts are the only ones that can escape the laws of causality and those blatantly can't allow free-will because they're entirely out of control and based on chance.

Pro furthermore seems to equate free-will with events corresponding to "what we want". That is just a semantics argument. He's taking the definition of "will" to define free-will. He can't do that because free-will is very different to simple will. Both my definition and my opponents initial definition stray far from that meaning.

Pro doesn't say much else except talk about how we're limited but not entirely. Well I never used the term "limited" in my case. It's not about being limited. I don't take determinism as limitation very much. It's about the natural laws of physics disallowing any notion of free-will to exist. We're constrained to the laws of physics. It's not a limitation, just a physical necessity. We can't transcend the laws of nature.


C.2 Free-will is an incoherent concept

Pro defines free-will as, " the ability to think freely, despite of the "limitations" we have". This is largely ambiguous, namely because he doesn't explain what "free" means or "limitations". If pro thinks my case rests on the premise that limitations cause us to not have free-will, then he is mistaken. It doesn't have to do with limitations, rather the causal and sometimes random nature of the universe. Pro does have the ability to blaspheme God yes, but then again, a rock also has the ability to withstand force. Since when has ability equaled free-will?

Pro also says the fact that he can't change the afterlife, means he does not have free-will in that circumstance. Well I have to say, this is strong support for my case. Can someone change what is inevitable? That would be a contradiction so of course not. But determinism entails inevitability and randomness entails zero control (a dichotomy pro has hardly disputed). So pro cannot change anything. Nothing at all. He can't change what he's going to do in twenty seconds time because it's all part of the causal order of things.

I've asked my opponent already and he has failed to answer. What act is neither random or caused? If I was determined by nature to get in my car and go to work today, was that free? Pro hasn't come across to me as a compatiblist, so I doubt he'd say yes. So then someone like Michio Kaku might answer that neurological events in the brain have been discovered to not be determined, leading us to believe we are free. But that utterly fails to answer it because those events are random, and random events are just so obviously not free. So where is pro's explanation? What act has any one ever made in the history of the universe that occured NOT by causality or randomness?

Pro's attempt to clarify free-will only leads to further confusion.

C.3 ‘Choices’ are shown to be made before the agent is conscious of them


Pro brings an unfortunately incoherent rebuttal to this point. His argument doesn't even make sense. He hasn't failed to refute the science I posted whatsoever. He seems to believe the ability to reason allows us to have free-will. This is an all-too common argument for free-will, but still a weak one. I've already refuted it in previous posts so no need to reiterate here. I would like to say, however, that it has nothing to do with the contention. We have the ability to reason, but neuro science proves that whatever reasoning we have, was inevitable before we were conscious of it.



Debate Round No. 3
MrDebitCredit0995

Pro

MrDebitCredit0995 forfeited this round.
phantom

Con

Free-will don't exist.
Debate Round No. 4
MrDebitCredit0995

Pro

MrDebitCredit0995 forfeited this round.
phantom

Con

In conclusion, free-will do exist, not.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by johnlubba 4 years ago
johnlubba
Very interestin topic here.

But one thing has got me thinking. Without free will, is it predetermined who I am to vote for on this topic? without me even being aware.

Thats a scary thought.

Phantom almost has me convinced.
Posted by aguilarjohn7 4 years ago
aguilarjohn7
Eccl 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these [things] God will bring thee into judgment.

Your free to do what ever you want, but every cost gots its pay
2Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by drafterman 4 years ago
drafterman
MrDebitCredit0995phantomTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Ron-Paul 4 years ago
Ron-Paul
MrDebitCredit0995phantomTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF by pro, better arguments by con.