The Instigator
longjonsilver
Pro (for)
Winning
32 Points
The Contender
Tatarize
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points

Free will does not exist.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Vote Here
Pro Tied Con
Who did you agree with before the debate?
Who did you agree with after the debate?
Who had better conduct?
Who had better spelling and grammar?
Who made more convincing arguments?
Who used the most reliable sources?
Reasons for your voting decision
1,000 Characters Remaining
The voting period for this debate does not end.
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/23/2007 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,299 times Debate No: 856
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (7)
Votes (12)

 

longjonsilver

Pro

For the purpose of this debate I will assume that god does not exist. (If you want to try to prove that god exists then go to relgion.)

Also. Please don't come into this debate saying that we must have free will because every day we make choices and so on.

Without religion or a soul it is impossible for the brain to evade standard physical laws. In this round I will be defending scientific determinism. Usually people dismiss me when I first propose this. I proceed with several questions:

1. Does an atom have free will? Why would you believe that atoms working together would be able to fight the laws of the universe?

2. If conciousness is what allows for free will then how does it react with matter without being subject to the laws of the universe?

3. Where do you draw your abitrary line? If a labotomy can completely change who you are, then the physical makeup of your brain clearly matters in determining how you act. If dopamine can change how you act then what happened to your will? Clearly matter and the laws of the universe have an effect on the choices of an individual. My claim is that it is arbitrary to try and have a dual ownership of choices.

The truth is that without relying on the supernatural there is no explanation of free will. Because free will IS supernatural. It is a supernatural claim to say that a mysterious ruler that is not tangible has arisen from the collection of atoms and allowed for a violation of that objects natural course of action.

Furthermore the tables in this debate are intially tilted in my favor because I am not the one claiming the existence of anything. It is the contender in this round that will be trying to prove the existence of something. (Refer to Russell's Teapot if you don't believe my claims.) This means that in the case of a draw you should vote Pro.
Tatarize

Con

Feel free to assume anything you want. If you want to assume the non-existence of God feel free to go to the religion section.

We must have free will because we make choices every day!

Free will is in principle a religious concept. You are coming here arguing against a religious concept and wanting to negate religion? I don't think so. It isn't really required, but it's kind of a cheap claim on your part. Just pointing out, you're asking claiming a religious concept doesn't exist and asking that I disregard all religious concepts. Fixed much? Not really. Your making a number of assumptions here which simply aren't grounded. You're assuming determinism due to the existence of laws and you're the one denying actual lines in favor of arbitrary ones.

1. Does an atom have free will? No. Atoms oddly can't be pegged down due to quantum uncertainty, and though I've heard some free will defenses grow out of this idea they are all pretty silly. Your problem here is the connection between the first and second question. You ask why then would atoms working together be able to fight the forces of a deterministic universe. This is wrong. You are committing the fallacy of composition.

Let me make a quick analogy.

Is an atom visible to the naked eye? Why would you believe that atoms together would be visible to the naked eye?

-- The underlying problem is you are trying to say that what applies to one applies to the group. This is simply false.

2. Why does consciousness need to be exempt from the universe in order to exist? If you haven't checked, the laws of the universe are actually pretty fuzzy. You can't even predict the atom, much less my brain. And even then that's what brain's do.

The truth is, my brain is extremely well formed, it is not confined by the laws of nature to come to an inevitable conclusion. This is actually a backwards way of viewing things. My brain is formed specifically to 'evit' conclusions. If you throw a rock at me, that rock will fly straight due to basic physics and hit me. However, my brain can 'evit' (evade) that consequence. I can catch a view of it in the corner of my eye, calculate exactly what is going to happen, and promptly trigger my muscles in such a way as to avoid being hit.

Certainly at some level my brain chemistry works within ordered laws, but that isn't to say that my brain results are all predetermined and everything is worthless. To the contrary, my brain is structured specifically to predict the future and react in ways specifically designed to re-craft the future in a manner more beneficial to me. The concept that, because this is at some level defined by laws of nature it isn't free will is a misunderstanding of exactly what brains do.

3. Where do I draw the arbitrary line? Well, I draw it arbitrarily of course! Where do I draw the actual line between where my brain is just neurons, just cells, just atoms, just particles, just quarks, just energy? The brain functions at the unit level. I make decisions at the level of the brain. Certainly with a lobotomy my brain level decisions would be different. Just as one could dose me with an neurotransmitter and change my behavior. A spray of oxytocin and I'll trust you, serotonin makes me sad, ohhh endorphins! That has a lot to do with the brain and how it works, but nothing to do with what it does. The brain functions to give us more freedom. The brain serves to give us free will, to free us from the bonds of determinism. The brain is an amazing engine for lifting ourselves above what we would otherwise be. This idea that we could just plot the course of every particle and predict the future to an exacting degree is a little off, both in the quantum mechanical sense, and the general. However, we could make rather stunning predictions if we looked at things as groups and objects and conceptualized them and used our understanding of the laws of nature to predict what they will do. Guess, what? That's exactly what our brains do. We do that because figuring out the deterministic world is a very useful bit of information. We can dodge rocks and win arguments.

Let us say you build a deterministic machine which predicts the future exactly. I ask it whether I will step to the right or to the left. And which ever event it says, I will just do the opposite to spite it. What answer can it give? None. It can't give a definite answer to that question because its deterministic inevitable result will easily be evited by my brain. You ask where I draw the line. Right there. Ask the computer about a rock, a planet, even trees, or dogs and you might very well get an answer. Ask it about me, and you'll be screwed. I buck that system because of my brain. I buck that system because I have free will in a natural materialistic sense.

If you have two deterministic machines and ask what the them what the other deterministic machine will determine you're going to run into troubles... and that's the trouble with your idea. You fail to realize that that is what a brain is. More than just a bunch of atoms, it's a deterministic machine. And you can't really determine what a deterministic machine will do without first determining what it is set to determine, and if that determination is changed by your determination, you just don't have the information you need even if you have all the information in the universe.

Freedom evolves.

--------------------------------------------------

Out side of this argument, allow me to pander briefly.

Free will exists because regardless of what you say God exists and gives us free will. You think you're so smart with your big words and fancy debates but you can't just assume God away. You want him to assume you away too? Huh? I didn't think so.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 1
longjonsilver

Pro

Before I post my final argument I think it is important to ask everyone not to vote based upon what they personally believe about free will. Almost everyone believes that free will exists and if everyone votes with there personal free will disposition then I certainly lost.

Now on to the debate!

Assumptions are important to make or otherwise you will be debating something other than what was meant to be discussed. Without my assumption someone could tell me, "We have free will because god has given it to us." The only thing left would be to refute the existence of god. Now although I do not believe in god, I refuse to debate his existence in this round because it is not the debate to be had. I fully realize that you may have a valid argument if you state that god gives us free will, however god's existence is not what presently interests me. If you don't like my opening assumption then don't debate me on this topic. Furthermore, I have not given the contender anything that is impossible to defend as there are many atheists who believe in the existence of free will. In summary, I chose to assume the non-existence of god so that we can actually debate free will.

If you feel that free will exists solely because god has given it to us then, given my assumption which I stated from the beginning, you must vote Pro.

I'm not assuming determinism. I'm trying to prove it. That's what this debate is about.

1. Your analogy is interesting and correct. I stated my argument poorly. I will better state it next time I debate this topic.

2. You've misunderstood me. I merely said that consciousness would have to be exempt from the laws of the universe in order to create free will. I never discussed the existence of consciousness, only its abilities.

//"You can't even predict the atom, much less my brain."
I never said we had to be able to predict the brain. Predictability is independent of whether or not free will exists. Just as dice do not have free will, it is nearly impossible to predict there results before they actually come to a stop. Even if you were to prove that we could never predict what a human would do (using quantum mechanics or whatever) then you have still not necessarily proven the existence of free will. Quantum mechanics brings to light entirely random actions that take place at a sub-atomic level. If somehow you were able to show that will is attached to this and consequentially could not be predicted then you still have not proven that will is free. Merely random, which is in no way free. In fact, randomness could be argued as the exact opposite of freedom. No one would argue that a quantum particle had free will, yet it is and will always be impossible to predict its next action.

//[Brain=well formed. Brain: not confined by natural laws. Backwards way of looking. Brain formed to evade conclusions.]
3 Assertions. 4Th statement: evasion is not a proof of free will.

//[If a rock is coming at you, you will see it and move.]
This has proven nothing. A nuclear reactor may push control rods deep into the fuel if the reactor starts to overheat but this has not proven free will. Of course the brain will command you to move when a rock is thrown at you because that's the way it is structured. Just as a reactor is structured to shut down when it starts to overheat.

//[The brains does depend some on chemistry. Brain=forward looking and self interested. Misunderstanding of the brain.]
This is an assertion, followed by a point that does not prove anything, followed by assertion. To address your point. Future looking self interested beings do not prove free will. Computer programs look to the future.

3.
//[Referencing dopamine, lobotomies, etc] "That has a lot to do with the brain and how it works, but nothing to do with what it does."
This has everything to do with what your brain will do. Drugs in your body will lead your brain to lead you to feel euphoric. You have done nothing to show that what you do does not reflect the structure of your brain. I have shown that lobotomies undoubtedly change the way that you act. This proves that the way you act is hinged to the structure of your brain.

//"The brain serves to give us free will, to free us from the bonds of determinism. The brain is an amazing engine for lifting ourselves above what we would otherwise be."
Assertion.

//[Your quantum mechanical thoughts and "off"ness of prediction.]
I never said that we had to be able to predict the action of everything. Not being able to predict actions do not prove the existence of free will. Furthermore, ability is only a capacity issue. It doesn't show that we will never be able to predict Everything outside of quantum particles, is theoretically possible predict. Due to this it is only logical to believe that everything the brain does is either random or predictable. Because all matter in this universe is either random or predictable. Everything that Laplace's demon can't predict is random and not free.

//[In regards to a machine that could predict] "And which ever event it says, I will just do the opposite to spite it."
Thats fine. Your actions could be related to that of a quantum particles. The very act of looking at a quantum particle changes its characteristics. That doesn't prove that it has free will. Furthermore, you haven't shown that the machine wouldn't actually know that when telling you what you would do, that you would do the opposite. What the machine tells you is not necessarily what it knows. You have not shown that the machine does not know what you will actually do. It could easily know that if it tells you that you will go left, then you will actually go right. You've only shown that telling you what you will do will change what you will do. This is irrelevant to free will.

//As for your questions of the machine.
First, I would like to state that you have assumed that I believe that everything could theoretically be predicted. I never said this, merely that free will does not exist. Now for the machine questions. These arguments are kin to another argument. Pretend I was to describe to you a devise that would show you exactly what was right in front of it. Now, understand that this devise is a mirror. What would happen if two perfectly parallel mirrors faced each other? This has not disproven mirrors just as you have not disproven the machine. Maybe one of the machines would overload and blow up. I don't know. It's not important.

//[God stuff.]
Are you joking here? Maybe playing devil's advocate? I'm not sure. Your profile says you're an atheist and I've read some of your debates where you openly say, "I'm an atheist." Anyway, (as you know) you're god claims are not significant in this round due to what I declared this debate was about in my opening argument. Furthermore, these are assertions.

Conclusion: Your response is almost solely assertions followed by points that prove nothing relevant. Furthermore you have tried to refute my disproofs of free will (which I have responded to here) but you never to proved the existence of free will. Until you have proven free will's existence, you cannot win this round. (Russel's Teapot).
Tatarize

Con

Prior to final arguments, let me just ask that everybody vote their biases. I understand my arguments are good. In fact, for the most part I've taken them from "Freedom Evolves" by Dr. Dennet. Let me just say, my opponent believes your immortal soul to be nothing more than the faint impulses of neurons and that your death is just the cession of those things. VOTE HIM DOWN FOR HIS BLASPHEMY! That or me up for my arguments.

Certainly, if you didn't take everything religious off the table in a debate about a religious subject one could perhaps have used a religious reason to justify the religious subject. We have free will because God has given it to us. Refusing to debate this on religious towns and conceding that one could make a valid (not possible to make a sound one sadly) argument in favor of religious free will, is probably best.

I, however, accepted your terms and explained exactly how and why humans have a secular, materialistic, free will. We make the inevitable not inevitable. You say that the debate is about determinism, but you're wrong. The debate is about free will, look at the topic. My argument specifically accepted that the universe may be deterministic. However, that doesn't negate free will in the least.

I see you have conceded that you cannot prove determinism via a fallacy of composition. However, that's actually rather moot to the argument I am advocating. My argument is determinism doesn't negate free will in the sense of making the inevitable evitable.

Your second point again is an argument for determinism as well as a reiteration of your argument that determinism contradicts free will. My entire contention is that determinism exists AND free will.

You accept that we can't predict the brain and yet it's deterministic and thus free will doesn't exist? In order to contradict free will you would need to predict what the brain will do, and have me, as an individual restrained such that I can do nothing else. Frankly, no. If a computer told me I was going to step to the right, I would step to the left just to spite it. Certainly it could predict this, but it can't predict it's prediction and my action and have them both correct. This was the main thrust of my argument.

Deterministic computer calculates you will do A, you do B because it predicted A. Well, then it's wrong. Why is it wrong? Because it didn't account for free will. It could do this prediction for a rock and get it spot on, same thing for the function of a computer, or plants and the like. However, I would not be predictable in this sense. Because I have free will. I have the ability to predict the future with a well-formed brain and assert my independence over the deterministic world just to spite the world. There are certainly lesser reactions than this, and those are certainly the evolutionary precursors of my free will ability, however plants tilting toward the sun is simply a step towards the line which cuts of reactions from actions. To react to something is to have something happen and quickly act to forestall the consequences. However, humans can act in a manner prior to the event. We can predict where the rock will hit and act according. We can disprove a machine that tries to put us in a box.

The brain is very impressive in this ability and it certainly shows that humans are different in this sense. We have a mental action ability where other organisms only have reaction ability. You could certainly program a computer to predict some future activity, but you couldn't predict the activity of a computer predicting future activity. You couldn't predict exactly what the predicting computer will predict because your prediction might very well change it's prediction. -- This is free will.

How a transistor works and the internal functions of the bus can change the operation of a computer. But it does not change the function of the computer (just how it functions). Turning it off doesn't make a computer suddenly into a fax machine. Just as shoving some problems into the brain changes how it functions but not what that function is. Changing the way you act is certainly an indication that your brain is deterministic. However, my entire argument is that free will is independent of determinism. Even a deterministic brain can still make choices and make what would be inevitable for a non-brain evitable in a very real sense.

Free will is the ability to make choices which outside factors and natural laws do not solely determine. The fact is the choices we make are often the product of predictions made about the universe. As such, these predictions cannot themselves be predicted until after the prediction. You can't know what I'm going to do until I do it: That's free will. Even if it were possible to track every particle in the universe and calculate what they would do, that calculation would play a role in my calculations and the only way to get such a device to work is to never give me the results or do the "predictions" after the actions. You can't know I'll do A, and restrict my ability to do B. You might for some lesser organism or for rocks and such, but with my brain: No. With my free will: No.

I have free will.
Debate Round No. 2
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by jackpool 8 years ago
jackpool
The question isn't "Are you choosing" the act of choice as is being defined by Silver is saying that choice is a reaction. I say, we have free will. But not some ethereal magical free will.
Free Will is to exert the wishes of ones consciousness upon their surroundings. If you are drunk, do you still have free will? Or do you have a different free will?
I agree with JongJohn. It is contrary to scientific fact to suppose anything moves and acts without having been affected by its surroundings, and enacting its our repercussions. Maybe, our spiritual bodies are contrived of the same matter that makes our physical bodies. For ones spirit grows and changes with time and based on what things have happened to them. Even if our spirit is a controlling factor in our behaviors, this spirit must obey cause/effect law, and thus free will is an illusion.
Posted by DocORock 8 years ago
DocORock
Although I believe in free will, my vote went to longjonsilver. I thought he debated the point a single hair better than the opponent.
Posted by DocORock 8 years ago
DocORock
Actually, I wish there were more rounds. I thought these two debated very well. This was enjoyable.

RESTART the debate! Get another viewpoint! I finally want to know if I have free will or not!
Posted by Solarman1969 8 years ago
Solarman1969
this is just mental masturbation

nothing more

study real science and engineering if you have this much time -learn something real
Posted by tremendoustie 8 years ago
tremendoustie
The fact is, if we assume we are a purely physical system, the physical state of a physical system is all there is, and it directly dictates, either with a random QM effect or without, subsequent physical states. All feel good talk of "ability to choose" or other higher level concepts are meaningless unless they are grounded in a physical reality, nor is there an "I" to do the chosing, outside of a collection of deterministic particles. If we are only a collection of atoms, the behavior of the atoms within outsevles is dictated by physical interactions, same as for any other atoms.

To say that the atoms' behavior could be determined by anything other than purely physical intereactions and perhaps QM effects is to invoke the spiritual. Perhaps the system is complex and difficult to "predict", but in fundamental nature it is no different from a rock or a chair. All "predictions", "intentions", etc, are then necessarily nothing more than physical states of the system caused directly, deterministically, by physical forces.

//"I have the ability to predict the future with a well-formed brain and assert my independence over the deterministic world just to spite the world."

Sorry, but according to this assumption your "predictions", "independence", "spite" are all just physical states as well, as determined as anything. If at any point anything other than the deterministic behavior of particles and QM can "assert independence" and affect the physics, you've exited the world of the physical my friend.
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
Ouch Solarman. With reasoning like that I could have just accused my opponent of witchcraft a few times and raked in the votes.

Volitional freedom != free will.

"Is it divine guidance?" -- Are you kidding? Either God gave you free will or God is guiding your actions. Running into Brian's paradox is always fun. If X God Exists; Else, God Exists. -- It's almost like the conclusion is foregone.
Posted by Solarman1969 8 years ago
Solarman1969
Free Will is the fundemental act of life

How do you think you are writing , longjohn ?

Is is divine guidance?
12 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Tatarize 6 years ago
Tatarize
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by s0m31john 7 years ago
s0m31john
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by Kleptin 7 years ago
Kleptin
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Vote Placed by JBlake 7 years ago
JBlake
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:00 
Vote Placed by mrmatt505 8 years ago
mrmatt505
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by solo 8 years ago
solo
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by silentrigger1285 8 years ago
silentrigger1285
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by jackpool 8 years ago
jackpool
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by longjonsilver 8 years ago
longjonsilver
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by DocORock 8 years ago
DocORock
longjonsilverTatarizeTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30