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Free Will is more rational to affirm than determinism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/21/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 638 times Debate No: 49653
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The motion is:

"Free Will is more rational to affirm than determinism"

The Burden of Proof is shared -
Pro (me) has to prove both that free-will is rational to affirm, and that determinism is not.
Con has to prove that determinism is rational to affirm, and that free-will is not.

Determinsm: The doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes regarded as external to the will. [1]
Free-will: The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one"s own discretion. [2]

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Rebuttals and Concluding remarks

Good luck!



Thank you for having posted this debate, I find it to be a very interesting topic. I accept the shared burden, the definitions, and the Round rules. I look forward to an enjoyable debate, Nzrsaa.

Happy arguing!
Debate Round No. 1


Hey SoloNo.1! Thanks for accepting this debate.

So, onto the arguments.

The Case For Affirming Free-Will

Argument 1

My main argument for free will comes from the recent revelations from quantum mechanics, and more specifically, Quantum indeterminacy.
The idea is that if the quantum world is indeterministic, then we must have free-will. This is proven via the free-will theorem by John Conway and Simon Kochen, which is summed up nicely by the men themselves:

"It asserts, roughly, that if indeed we humans have free will, then elementary particles already have their own small share of this valuable commodity. More precisely, if the experimenter can freely choose the directions in which to orient his apparatus in a certain measurement, then the particle's response (to be pedantic, the universe's response near the particle) is not determined by the entire previous history of the universe." [1]

So, if Quantum events are not already determined, and possess a number of possible actual positions that can only be actualized by a measurement to fix it in place, then it follows that determinism cannot be true.

But there is no middle ground according to Conway and Kocher's theorem - either the universe is realist, and therefore determinism prevails, or the universe is idealist, and therefore we must have free-will.
So what evidence do we have to prove that the quantum level is indeterministic? Well, the notion is unanimously backed up via the double split experiment. In the experiment, electrons were fired through a double slit. Without measurement, the electrons went through both slits, showed up like a wave structure, leaving an interference pattern. However with measurement (they placed a measuring device by the slit), the electrons traversed through only one slit. [2] [3] And so the conclusion was that nothing is determined until an observer takes a measurement - in other words, the quantum world is indeterministic. So it follows, via Conway and Kocher's free-will theorem, that we must have free-will. [video]

So, we can set out an argument:
1) If the quantum world is indeterministic then we have free-will (via the free-will theorem)
2) The quantum world is indeterministic
3) Therefore we have free-will

Argument 2
My second argument comes from the fact that we at least have the illusion of free-will. It can be set out as follows:

1) Our cognitive faculties at least have the illusion of freewill
2) Our cognitive faculties are generally reliable
3) It is rational to affirm free-will based on our cognitive faculties

I think that 1) can hardly be contested. When we make decisions, we make them as if we freely make that choice, with no external constraints. When we choose to watch TV, for instance, it is as if within our own will, we decide to do so.
As for 2), If we can't trust our own senses, then what can we trust? It seems evident that we should be able to trust our own faculties - because if we couldn't, then what would be the point of believing anything at all? What would be the point of science? All use our mental functions - the same functions used that give us the illusion of free-will.
So as long as have the illusion of free-will, which we do, I think that it is certainly rational to conclude that we do in fact have free-will - and thus is rational to affirm

In criticism of affirming determinism

Criticism 1

My main criticism of affirming determinism is how it is self-refuting to believe that all events are determined by external causes.
Under determinism, you cannot weigh choices up and freely choose the most rational option - rather, your decisions will ultimately be decided by your genes, environment, and upbringing, and there is nothing that you can do to change them. They were determined to occur ever since the start of time, like a wound up clock.
But this has to apply to all aspects of the determinsist's life. And so this has to include his decision to believe in determinism.
So someone who believes in determinism does so simply because they were determined to. This is entirely irrational to affirm - if you believe in something simply because you were determined to do so, then it becomes a pointless and futile gesture, bound by external factors and not by free and reasoned thought.

As William Lane Craig states:
"There is a sort of dizzying, self-defeating character to determinism. For if one comes to believe that determinism is true, one has to believe that the reason he has come to believe it is simply that he was determined to do so. One has not in fact been able to weigh the arguments pro and con and freely make up one's mind on that basis. The difference between the person who weighs the arguments for determinism and rejects them and the person who weighs them and accepts them is wholly that one was determined by causal factors outside himself to believe and the other not to believe." [4]

So determinism is not rational to affirm simply due to how its assertion undermines it's own assertion,

Criticism 2
Linking back to my main argument for free-will, determinism cannot be rationally affirmed due to how the universe is indeterministic. (my free-will argument prevails and refutes determinism)

Thanks Con, I now hand the debate over to you.

God Bless



SoloNo.1 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


SoloNo.1 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Oh well.
Thanks everyone, see you around.


SoloNo.1 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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