The Instigator
Lightkeeper
Con (against)
Losing
16 Points
The Contender
Wayne
Pro (for)
Winning
21 Points

Free will exists

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
Wayne
Started: 10/4/2008 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,258 times Debate No: 5631
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (71)
Votes (6)

 

Lightkeeper

Con

I am against the above proposition.

Free will is to be defined as "ability to make a conscious decision".
Assumption: there is not a god, there is no a soul, human beings process information and make decisions using a device called "brain". "Brain" is a physical bodypart functioning on the basis of complex bio-electro-chemical processes.

I am Con. I will let my opponent start this debate.
Wayne

Pro

I like to thank the con side for opening this debate, and giving me a chance to debate on this.

I accept all the premises proposed. I'll further define "conscious" as "mentally perceptive or alert".

With these premise, it is very easy to show that free will exists. I am aware that I am currently typing
this sentence. I can stop or continue typing whenever I wish. Whether I continue typing this sentence or not
is completely up to me. What decision I will make cannot be predicted by anyone else because of the existence of free will.
Debate Round No. 1
Lightkeeper

Con

I thank my opponent for taking this debate and for his opening argument.

At the outset I will address an issue raised in the Comments section. It is there suggested that my definition (although agreed to by my opponent) of "brain" is open to scientific attack. Just briefly, wikipedia contains the following: "The brain is the physical and biological matter contained within the skull, responsible for electrochemical neuronal processes" (http://en.wikipedia.org...). I trust this goes some way to vindicate my definition.

My opponent claims that free will exists. He bases this on the proposition that he can stop typing whenever he wishes. I do not disagree with that. Except to say that the very act of "wishing" is not in itself a voluntary process. I will now attempt to explain why.

The action of "wishing" is a species of "thought". It is in effect a decision made by an individual. The decision results from a thought process. The thought process (as stipulated in the assumption for this debate) takes part in the brain. It results from a very complex combination of electrical and chemical neuronal processes. You do not consciously control those processes. The brain processes information in accordance with the laws of physics (althought there is still much we do not understand about the fine details of these processes).

Since every thought is simply the result of a physical process taking place in the brain, the very act of "wishing" is in itself not controllable by the individual's conscious thinking. Rather, his conscious awareness of the wish comes about after the wish is already made. Looked at it from this perspective, the brain is basically a very very complex computer. The human body in itself is nothing more than an extremely complex machine. All of my opponent's actions and reactions, moves and thoughts are dictated by the physical makeup of his brain, the chemical composition of each part of his body, the connections of his neurons, external stimuli and how his brain is programmed to react to external stimuli. If it were possible to recognise, analyse and undestand all of these factors and precisely how they come to play in my opponent's thinking processes then every one of his thoughts and actions could be predicted with perfect accuracy. Of course that is impossible due to the enormously huge number of factors at play.

My opponent is likely to say that when he is confronted with two or more options (generated by this physical process in his brain), he freely elects which one to choose. Well, again, the process of choosing an option is in itself just a combination of electro-chemical neuronal processes.

Take a break for just one second and consider this question: Do you control your thoughts? Where do they come from? If you think about this carefully, you will very quickly realise that you do not dictate to your brain what it is going to think. Rather, the brain dictates your thoughts to you. My opponent is now likely to say "yes, but your brain IS you". Well, true. But it is not the "conscious you". The conscious you is simply a manifestation of a huge number of processes that take place completely outside your control and knowledge.

I am sorry to break this to my opponent but he is just a robot.
Wayne

Pro

I will now put my opponent's argument into my own words, and then respond to my opponent.

My opponent says all our wishes and our desires are generated by our brain, and this process of generation cannot be consciously controlled since we do not control the chemical and neuronal reactions that the brain uses in order to generate our wishes. My opponent's conclusion from this is that ALL our wishes are hardwired. In other words, all our wishes, and the actions that follow those wishes are dictated by the inevitable, and unchangeable laws of science. Lastly, my opponent asserts that all human beings are robots essentially.

My counterargument lies in the fact the way our brain functions is significantly different from that of other animals. This significant difference is our ability to think in ways that animals cannot. To give an example... animals are compelled to reproduce and produce offspring. This behavior is in fact, hardwired into the brain. Animals do not have the ability to make a decision against the brain's dictation. This is clearly not true in the case of humans, even though our brain, also is hardwired for us to have sex. Thus, the reason we are "conscious" is that we have the ability to veto what our brain wants us to behave, contrary to what my opponent is trying to prove. Our desires are not unchangeable in the sense that we do have the ability to change our brain's wishes it generated. Once the brain has generated a wish, that wish can be reevaluated at any time. Although the way brain functions is through physical means, this does that automatically mean there is no free will. Our wish can be changed and changed again whenever. We can keep changing the wish our brain gives us until we are satisfied with our brain's final wish, regardless how this wish is generated. If indeed the brain cannot be used to the benefit of our "free will", why would the brain reform its beliefs and wishes even when no new information comes in? From this dilemma, it must follows that there IS indeed a free will that dictates what thoughts the brain should think (albeit that the thinking process is a physical process).

Indeed, we humans are unique because we do not behave in ways that we ought to. Our wishes, desires, and thoughts are no longer shaped by biological evolution. Through evolution, our brain has programmed us to have sex and to eat whenever we are hungry, yet we are able to protest to what is programmed into our brain. Contrary to what my opponent has said, we cannot be robots. Robots cannot think in ways that it is not programmed to, or doubt its own programmed command and regenerate the command. Yet these are the traits that we humans process.

The observations that I have presented challenge what my opponent believes to be the case, and my opponent would have to reconcile my observations with his, or poke holes at my observations in order to win this debate.
Debate Round No. 2
Lightkeeper

Con

I thank my opponent for responding.

I will begin with what I consider to be the gist of his proposition. I will then turn to the remainder of his argument.

My opponent claims that humans have an ability to "veto what our brain wants us to behave". It appears he is basing it on the premise that humans can decide not to have sex even if their brain is telling them to.
I agree that humans can decide not to have sex. But let us ask ourselves, how does the decision not to have sex come about?

The answer is that the decision is a process which takes place in the brain. It is based on electrochemical reactions over which we have no control. Every thought we have and every decision we make is based on those reactions. They are complex and there are a great many of them and information is processed at enormous speeds. The brain can be in conflict with itself. A part of it can dictate "have sex", another part can say "do not have sex". In the end the brain will make a decision. That decision can be made based on a number of things. The brain will process volumes of information to make that decision. But the process of making it is, once again, a physical electrochemical process within the brain.
My opponent has agreed with the assumptions and definitions and the only possible conclusion from them is what I am stating now.

I do not know what drives my opponent to claim that humans are not subject to evolution. If we assume that evolution is a valid concept (and that is not part of this debate), then humans are, in my submission, very much subject to it. Evolution in Darwinian terms relies on the concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Natural selection is based on sexual selection in humans. We choose what we consider the most suitable partner to have offspring with and thus to propagate our genes. We generally look for someone who is "good looking" (this means they look healthy and - as has been suggested - similar to ourselves in some ways). A woman might want a man who is a good lover. This simply means that he has the genotype that will likely ensure that their offspring will be verile. We like someone to be smart. That's important in today's society because our culture rewards intelligence (financially!). We want them to be funny and friendly. Such people find it easier to find social support. This will again ensure a better chance of survival and propagation for our offspring. Humans are very much subject of evolution. I encourage my opponent to think about that the next time he admires the beauty or other attributes in a woman.

I contend further that my opponent may not at all be correct in claiming that animals are different to humans in the aspect he chose to discuss. Natural selection in animals (at least those who reproduce sexually) is based on sexual selection. There are a great many species and their courting rituals vary greatly. However, animals go to great lengths to attract a partner. They make choices as to who they will court. They can change their minds about having sex with a partner, very much like we do. The female of a species known as "dog" in fact often runs away from the male. Some animals are monogamic (seahorses for example). Experiments on non-human primates have shown that their behaviour is surprisingly similar to ours. If my opponent has a dog and has ever taken it for a walk, he might in fact be aware of how many different choices and behaviours the dog exhibits. You call him, he comes. Then he might run off and sniff a female dog. Then you call him again. He'll hesitate for a while. He might ignore you and continue "talking" to his new friend or he might ignore her and come to you. He might greet you warmly or sulk off into a corner. For my opponent to say that animals do not make choices or that their choice process is markedly different to ours is a huge generalisation.

It may be true that some animals have a less developed sense of "self" than humans. Again, this only depends on the complexity of the animal's brain. In one experiment, a young chimpanzee was shown her own reflection in a mirror. After a little play the chimpanzee seemed to realise that that is her own image. She started having fun with it. Dancing around and enjoying the image in the mirror. But further prove was needed. The following day a green mark was painted on the chimp's forehead. The chimp was then again shown to the mirror. She noticed the mark on the forehead of the chimp in the mirror. Her hand then travelled to her own forehead. She felt the mark with her hand while looking in the mirror. This was held to prove that the chimp knew that the mirror was her own reflection and that she had a firmly established sense of "self". The same experiment was conducted on human children. They behaved in a very similar way.

I saw this experiment in a show on the Animal Planet channel. If challenged to, I will attempt to find sources for this.

To sum it up, animals are not at all as different to humans as my opponent suggests. Humans are also subject to the laws of evolution. I believe, however, that that entire point is not central to the topic of this debate.

BOTTOM LINE
Even if a person changes his/her mind about something or if he or she refuses to follow an insctinct, that decision is generated by the brain through electrochemical processes that the person cannot control.
Wayne

Pro

I'll also thank my opponent for his sincere response.

Right off the bat though, I should clarify that I do not believe that humans are not subjected to evolution. Throughout my response in second round, I have said that we do have the urge to have sex, and this urge is the manifestation of evolution's workings on us. This manifestation is also seen in other urges that we (and other animals) have. An urge to eat whenever we are hungry, drink whenever we are thirsty, avoid pain and uncomfort, so on and so forth. My opponent has given examples of these behaviors of ours. None of which, however, adequately contends with the arguments I made in the second round.

While my opponent has given examples of our behaviors that were hardwired into our brain due to natural selection, he has left out EXCLUSIVELY behaviors of humans. Example of this would be sexual abstinence in cases which the reason isn't so he/she could find a "good lover" or to have "virile offspring". They are reasons that cannot be explained using biological evolution alone. Examples of exclusively human behaviors are numerous. Suicides, self-starve, etc.

Having said that, I'll rebut my opponent's argument again. My opponent says that all decisions, even those that would go against our innate urges, are unconscious decisions made beforehand by our brain. The question I will ask my opponent is, why would our brain make these kind of decisions? Wouldn't our brain's always vote for decisions that have the most evolutionary benefits? From my opponent's perspective, we should have sex whenever we want, and eat whenever we want, for this is what is hardwired into our brain. But instead, we control ourselves, and our evolutionary urges. There must be a part of us that can veto our brain's unconscious decisions.

Going further, my opponent has explained that us vetoing of brain, is just the brain in conflict with itself. The brain process mass information, and at a certain moment, one part of the brain may disagree with another part. In essence, my opponent is saying that our brain would process a certain amount of information, and then make a final decision, all of this, unconsciously and uncontrollable. This observation however, is not very firm. One could easily think of situations in which there are no new information flowing into the brain, yet we might not make our decision until much later. Surely, our brain's decision making is not an unconscious input and output. For example, voters may read this debate to its full, thereby, has all the information the voter already need in order for the brain to make a decision. If the voter does not know which side to vote for, yet is forced to vote, the voter would most likely vote differently if given a different amount of time. If the voter votes after 5 days, his vote isn't necessarily the same if he had voted after 10 days instead. This observation shows that our brain isn't just machine that would process input, and give an output. Instead, the brain process input, and the person would be able to consciously decide what the output is going to be. Because the output isn't always necessarily the same given the same information input into the brain, this shows that the conflict isn't really between two unconscious parts of our brain, but rather, the conscious person being in conflict with his brain.
Debate Round No. 3
Lightkeeper

Con

My opponent appears to suggest that only the very basic instincts in humans are ones arising from evolution.
He suggests that otherwise our brains would "always vote for dcisions that have the most evolutionary benefits".
With respect, that is not how evolution works.
Evolution does not create a perfect being, one whose decisions are always the best decisions in the interests of survival of its genes. Rather, evolution is the process through which those traits that are LESS favourable have a tendency not to get passed on in the long run as they are eliminated through natural selection.

My opponent mentions suicide and self-starvation. He further claims that these cannot be explained biologically. Whether they can or not is not relevant. A being that has evolved is THE RESULT of a process (evolution, natural selection). The being is NOT the means to a process. In evolution there is no such thing as "purpose". We have evolved as we are because less suitable traits were eliminated by natural selection and survival of the fittest. The process continues although some will argue that it is tempered by culture and society. Others will say that society is just another level to the process. Animals are social beings too. They have their cultures and rituals.
Can suicide be an act resulting in better chances of propagating one's genes? Yes it can. For example someone who commits suicide so that his children would live. In other cases, a person who feels so dissatisfied with life that they cannot cope might terminate themselves and leave no offspring. The result will be a population with less people who cannot cope. Less genes that cannot cope. This whole process is part of evolution.

These issues, however interesting, are tangental to our main argument and I am glad my opponent agrees with that.

It is true that we do not always make decisions immediately. Sometimes we need to process the information for longer. That is also not relevant to my argument.

I challenge my opponent to conduct a free will experiment. I want my opponent to consciously decide what he wants to think about. It should go like this:
"I'm going to think about... (brief pause)..... A" (in my case "A" happened to be lightbulbs)
Then I want my opponent to ask himself what made him choose the subject that he decided to think about. Why he chose that particular subject and not another. He will find that the decision comes about through a process outside his control. It will just "come to him". Alternatively he might decide that the subject to think about will be the first object he lays his eyes on in his room. However, there are a score of objects in his room. Why did he choose one and not another?

That's an interesting experiment. However, it really does diverge somewhat from the main topic of this discussion.

You see, my opponent says that when we change our minds, when we "oveerride" more basic decisions with more sophisticated ones, it is "the conscious person being in conflict with his brain". This begs the following question:

What mechanism, according to my opponent, does the "conscious person" use for making the decision? He seems to be suggesting that it is not the brain. Many studies have been conducted to show that the more we think, the longer we think, the higher the electrical activity in our brains. In fact, thinking a lot gives one a headache! Not a "conscious-person-ache" but a HEAD-ache.

My opponent appears not to give the human brain much credit. He appears to be saying that the brain only makes the most basic decisions, those "hardwired" ones. He seems to be saying that apart from the brain there is some independent, magical, never-seen, undetectable "conscious person". Is he trying to say "soul"? If so, he is moving outside the scope of the debate (see assumptions). Secondly, we all have heard of cases where a person who sustains head injury loses all recollection of their life. Some have lost their very identity. They no longer knew who they were! Is this because the magical "conscious person", independent of the brain, is actually located in our head, sitting there next to the brain? Does this magical thing get knocked out of our head when we sustain head injury? Is this why people in those situations have been known to lose their knowledge of "self"? Or is it more likely that the injury is just a brain injury and that the "self" is just some very complex information programmed into the brain? You see, scientists have identified the parts of the brain responsible for various things. But perhaps I will leave that for the next round.

This observation, along with the above free-will experiment are again just little points to go to my argument. But the fact is that my argument would stand even without them. And I will now explain why.

This debate is based on three assumptions. Firstly that there is not a god. Secondly that there is not a soul.
Thirdly, that humans process information and make decisions using a device called "brain" which in turn functions on the basis of complex bio-electro-chemical processes.

My opponent, in his Round 1 has accepted these assumptions as true for the purposes of this debate. I quote:

**I accept all the premises proposed. I'll further define "conscious" as "mentally perceptive or alert".**

You see, once my opponent has accepted that people process information and make decisions with a device called "brain" and based on electro-chemical processes, he cannot now go outside the scope of this debate and argue that there exists, outside the brain, some magical "conscious person" who has the power to ovveride the brain's decisions.
Wayne

Pro

On the discussion of evolution, my opponent responds to some of the arguments I made, and added that this particular topic is tangential at the end. I will first address the notion that the discussion of evolution is "tangential" to the topic of free will, and then address my opponent's response to my arguments.

The reason I bring up the process and nature of evolution is because it would shed light on what the brain is supposed to do (since the brain is the product of evolution). And as we all know, animals have brains so the animals could make decisions that would help them survive (reflexes, memory, etc) and increase their chance of genetic propagation. I expect my opponent would agree with this, since with this premise, free will indeed does not exist (due to the observation that all animal behaviors are controlled by the brain).

With that in mind, one argument of mine is that humans are unique in the sense that we are capable to not be controlled by this "supposed function" of the brain. What my examples were are certain exclusively human behaviors that would seemingly go against what our brain is meant to prevent. Humans would put themselves in situations where they cannot propagate their genes. Examples of this are countless, and although my opponent can show how some of these examples could help humans propagate indirectly, I doubt my opponent can explain all of them (in fact, he hasn't tried to explain all the examples I have given in the previous rounds).

Perhaps the most obvious and important example is our use of condoms and other contraception. While we still have urges to have sex (this would be one of those desires that we cannot control by free will) we have the ability to make the decision to use birth control so we do not propagate our gene. This is actually very staggering because it shows how different we are from all other organisms. If there was a kind of plant, that if eaten, would cause the consumer of that plant infertile, animals would avoid that plant at all cost, yet we humans are cultivating it and using it generously. Why would we want to make this decision if we do not have a free will? Surely, we must be able to make conscious decisions in order to have the desire to use contraception. If we cannot make conscious decisions, all our decisions must be ones that would help propagate our genes as that's what are brain is for.

My opponent has asked me, "what mechanism [...] does the "conscious person" use for making the decision"? I shouldn't have to invoke a "soul" in order to assert we are able to make conscious decisions. Presumably, everyone who's reading this would currently consider themselves "conscious", meaning, they are aware of what they are doing, and they have the ability to stop reading this whenever he wants to without the feeling of being "forced (by their brain) to stop reading". Precisely, when I said we make conscious decisions, I am saying we have a thought (generated by the brain) and we can either execute it, or veto it and have the brain generate another thought. This is what I mean by consciousness and free will, and I can demonstrate this without invoking any magical substance.

To sum up this round, I have showed that we are able to make conscious decisions (albeit generated by the brain), for they are conscious because they are decisions that would go against what is hardwired to the brain, demonstrating our ability to veto the decisions our brain would try to force on us. And the conclusion from this, is that free will exists. (in this round, we used the example of the usage of contraception). The sexual lust is what is programmed, I showed we are not biological robots since we can control our lust, and if we do decide to have sex, we use contraception which would destroy the purpose of the desire hardwired into the brain.
Debate Round No. 4
Lightkeeper

Con

Ladies and gentlement,

I will now first address why you should vote Con. I will then follow by a more detailed response ty my opponent's most recent round.

Firstly, it does not matter if you believe in God or gods or Creation. It does not matter whether you yourself believe that we have free will because there is some independent entity such as a soul or as a mind that is separate from the physical brain. The reason why it does not matter is because you are voting on THIS DEBATE and you are voting within the SCOPE of this debate. The debate has been conducted with 3 ASSUMPTIONS. These assumptions were agreed by both parties at the outset. These are:

1. That there is not a god;
2. That there is not a soul;
3. That humans process information and make decisions using a device called "brain" which is a bodypart functioning on the basis of complex bio-electro-chemical processes.

My opponent has agreed with the above. Therefore any argument he attempts to put that would fall outside of this scope cannot be used to prove his case or to disprove mine.

My case is simple: Since (as per our assumptions) all our decisions and information processes (thought) are carried out by electro-chemical processes in our brain, we cannot control our thoughts or decisions. That's because every single thought is done by those processes.

My opponent's case is essentially that we have a power to "veto" the thoughts and decisions that result from the electro-chemical processes in the brain. With respect, that cannot be so as there exists (per our definitions and assumptions) no mechanism to veto those decisions with. The very act of vetoing them would involve further thought and decisions which again (as per the agreed assumptions) had to result from electro-chemical processes in our brain. We could even double-veto. But once again, the decision to double veto (or veto the veto) is a thought process and again it's an electro-chemical process in our brain. We have assumed for the purpose of this debate that no magical external "mind" or "soul" exists and that our thinking and decisions are made by the brain.

My opponent has never suggested any method of consciously controlling the abovementioned electro-chemical processes and I have contended that they cannot be consciously controlled. Thus the only conclusion we can come to is that all of our thinking (even the thoughts we are ultimately aware of consciously) is done outside of our conscious control and hence there is no free will.

Again I repeat, this is based on the agreed assumptions. You might well believe in a soul that does the thinking for us, or that can veto our brain. I do not contest that here. I might contest it elsewhere. But for this debate, we are working within the scope.

The only conclusion is there is no free will.

Vote Con.

Thank you

OTHER THINGS

My opponent claims that evolution decides what the brain is "supposed to do". That is not so. There is no such thing as "purpose" in evolution. Evolution is the process of natural selection and we are the result of it. Under the theory we do not have a purpose. The theory simply states that traits that are not condusive to gene replication will gradually disappear from or diminish within the species.

Reflexes and memory and sex drive are basic instincs and basis functions of the brain. However, if you look at the assumptions for this debate, we have both agreed that our thinking and decision-making is made by the brain. It was not limited to those very basic functions.

My opponent claims that humans are different to (other) animals because we do not always act in a way that is condusive to a survival of our genes. With respect, many other animals act in a similar way. Lemmings have been known to jump to their death. Some ants will follow other ants in a nice neat line just to jump into a pool of poison. Some species of spiders eat their young. Bees are social animals and most of them do not partake in reproduction at all. Some species of shark will eat their siblings while still in the mother's womb. Some monkeys masturbate. Some monkeys have homosexual sex. Have you ever seen a little chuahua dog try to take on a german sheppard? I have. Folks, that's as close to suicide as you can get!

We might use contraceptions. My opponent claims that is because we have moved on from having sex for procreation only. And yet the male turky will have sex with female chickens (hens). No prospect of viable offspring there. Mules are a cross between a horse and a donkey. Again, no genes will ever pass on. Have you ever had a dog hump your leg? Surely the dog is not doing that to impregnate you. Can animals say "no" to sex? Yes, some species do. As I said before, the female dog will often run away from a contender. Some females spiders will eat a contender before any chance of intercourse. They just aren't interested in mating with him. Sure, our reasons may be more complex. But that's because we ARE more complex.

The more people research animals the more similar to them we turn out to be.
I suggest that almost every behaviour that my opponent would claim to be exclusively human could be found in another animal. I'm happy to debate that fully on another occasion.
And even if we weren't so similar to animals, that does not prove free will.

But let's take another look at this. Are those behaviours really counter-intuitive to evolution? Using contraception may limit the number of children we have. Therefore we can provide better for the ones we have. We also may not end up having any children until we find ourselves economically ready to provide for them. Or just emotionally mature enough. Is that really contrary to gene propagation? I say it's not. I say it's the opposite.

Let's assume that we really are unique in our ability to "veto" a basic instinct. I'm not conceding any free will here. What I'm concedeing is that we can reprocess a basic automatic decision. The process is still electro-chemical. Still no free will involved. However, it is a more complex, more involved processing of information. More complex thought. Is it counter-intuitive to evolution? I say it's not. You see, the fact that we have the ability to re-analyse a situation is in fact very much conducive to propagation of our genes. If we decide not to have sex just for the fun of it, we avoid the existence of an unplanned child, one with no support or one we're not ready for. We also avoid overpopulation. We can also take part of the "bee worker" and not have any children at all. Rather, we assist our "bee hive" in other ways. By avoiding getting into a fight we ensure that we do not get hurt and our kids are not left orphaned.

More complex thought processes (while still not free will as per the assumptions to this debate) do in fact in many cases assist gene propagation and (in the least) the survival of our population. And the very ability to have those processes assist that propagation in every sense.

And I once more say to you, you cannot deliberately tell yourself what your thoughts will be next. If you could, all your thinking would be done instantly. It may seem like you have a free will. But just think about it: thoughts come to you, they're not controlled by you. The ones that you become aware of make the conscious you. But the conscious you does not make them. Once you do some exercises to test it out, you will see it is correct.

Not that any of it matters, however. Please refer to the section entitled "BOTTOM LINE" above.

I thank my opponent for this debate.
Wayne

Pro

As the last round of this debate, I'd like to thank everyone one last time for making this debate all possible. My opponent for giving me this chance to debate on this issue (I have raised my own consciousness somewhat from this debate), and all the readers taking interests in this debate, and being potential voters.

So... this round, I am going to sum up the debate and show where things stand between us...

My opponent's main contention is that all our thoughts are generated through processes that we cannot consciously control. I agree with this, but I don't necessary think that translates to we have no free will.

Our brain generated thoughts, but we are not compelled to act upon them. If we see an attractive person on the street, and we desire to mate with that person, most of us do not act on that wish. My opponent would say that the thought of "self control" is also generated by the brain through means that we cannot consciously control, but ultimately, which thought we act upon on is a conscious decision.

I have also tried to show we have free will by comparing us to animals. Because we are so much more intellectual than other animals, our advanced ability to reason gives the possibility of free will. We can make decisions that goes against what our brain was programmed for. Our brain tells us to have sex with anyone visually pleasing, yet we exercise self control for reasons that cannot be explained by evolution. Students for example, do not typically propagate their gene because the burden of taking care of a child would conflict with getting proper education. Another example I gave in the previous round, I stated our desire to use contraception arose from free will, because contraception would be something our innate intuition would be so against.

To further clarify this point, I'll respond to what my opponent said in his last round:

"Are those behaviours really counter-intuitive to evolution? Using contraception may limit the number of children we have. Therefore we can provide better for the ones we have. We also may not end up having any children until we find ourselves economically ready to provide for them. Or just emotionally mature enough. Is that really contrary to gene propagation? I say it's not. I say it's the opposite."

The reasoning that we should wait until it is financially favorable did not arose from our brain's hardwiring. Our brain did not evolved in an environment where people who would wait until they are financially stable until they propagate are more likely to survive. This "financial factor" only came into existence after human civilization, and by that point, humans are already fully evolved. Even of my opponent believes that humans are still evolving even when we already are living in a civilization, 6000 years of evolution cannot change the human genome enough to show any difference (6000 years is the estimated time humans become civilized). So how did your decision to use a contraception come from? Surely, it cannot be from our brain's hardwiring, but rather our ability to make conscious decisions.

I believe that I have showed a good counter argument for my opponent's main contention, and I have given numerous examples throughout this debate. Thus, I strongly urge voters to vote pro! Free will exists!
Debate Round No. 5
71 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by scissorhands7 5 years ago
scissorhands7
This was an excellent debate, the arguments were clear and concise.

Additionally both debaters were very polite which makes things much more enjoyable to read.

If the Con or Pro are reading this, I would like to personally invite you both to contribute to our guide for new debaters on the issue of ettiquette.

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Posted by Lightkeeper 5 years ago
Lightkeeper
Harlan,

Thanks for that suggestion. I did consider that but decided to cover all my bases just in case. Better safe than sorry, as they say :)
Posted by Lightkeeper 5 years ago
Lightkeeper
KRFournier, I did catch this but my argument wasn't changed by that. I accepted that humans are capable of more complex thinking but I continued to maintan that this also is caused by the brain which is a physical mechanism as per the assumptions. Kind of like a computer has its BIOS ("hardwired"), OS (higher level) and then the actual software you run on it (highest level). Top level software can actually veto decisions made by the OS. But none of any of this changes the fact that the processes are electronic and take place in the CPU and other components :)
Posted by Wayne 5 years ago
Wayne
there is no basis for soul? i think a handful of debaters on this site might dispute that xD
Posted by Harlan 5 years ago
Harlan
I think that the assumption that there is no soul was unecessary, you simply could have argued that there is no basis for such a thing, and it should therefore be disregarded.
Posted by KRFournier 5 years ago
KRFournier
Wayne, your point is well taken. Let me just put it this way: I was back and forth the entire debate and was contemplating a tie. Given Lightkeeper's parameters, you had a lot going against you. While I thought you fared better than most would have (myself included), I think he still won by a nose.

Given how close the votes are, I'm clearly not the only one that finds the debate evenly matched.
Posted by Wayne 5 years ago
Wayne
"Neither side really seemed to catch this and remained resolute in their point of view"

we were in a debate, not an actual discussion, and in a debate, we have to be resolution throughout.
Posted by Wayne 5 years ago
Wayne
thank you for your input, i felt encouraged even though you voted against me =]
Posted by KRFournier 5 years ago
KRFournier
This was a very good debate, and a tough one to vote on.

For starters, I left conduct and sources at a Tie. I felt, all things balanced, that both sides exhibited good debating conduct and, being that this was a logical debate, sources were not of much necessity. However, I did vote Con on spelling and grammar.

As for more convincing argument? This was tough. First, Con established assumptions that would inevitably invalidate the notion of free will. After all, once both sides agree that everything is the product of physical forces, which are mathematically precise, how can it possibly be that there is free will? However, to Pro's credit, he didn't break out of the assumptions. He made a distinction between conscious thought and lower function thought without appealing to God our souls, viewing conscious as a more complex system that could override simpler thoughts and urges. Con made a similar distinction between conscious and lower function, but viewed conscious as driven by lower level brain functions.

I think both sides argued for two sides of the same coin. Con started from the physical brain and deduced that there is no free will. Pro started from human experience, in which free will is observed, and deduced that the brain is sophisticated enough to account for free will. Neither side really seemed to catch this and remained resolute in their point of view.

In the end, I voted Con for the argument. Given Con's assumptions, Pro had an uphill battle, and though he fought valiantly, he didn't quite reach the summit in my opinion.
Posted by Wayne 5 years ago
Wayne
good game, good game...
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by KRFournier 5 years ago
KRFournier
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Vote Placed by Wayne 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by CPURules 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by InquireTruth 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by Zerosmelt 5 years ago
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Vote Placed by Harlan 5 years ago
Harlan
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Research this debate: Kurt Gödel