The Instigator
JalenCaudill
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Beginner
Con (against)
Winning
6 Points

Free will is an illusion.

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Beginner
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/26/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 684 times Debate No: 68961
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (2)

 

JalenCaudill

Pro

This is my first attempt at creating a debate so I'm stating that as a caveat. I'm going to use this initial opening to lay down the rudimentary forms of my argument.
I'm "pro" which means:
- I believe free will to be an illusion
- This illusion is worth talking about as it affects everything about our everyday lives, including the justice system.
- Free will, even in subjective terms, isn't compatible with reality
- fMRI scans show that observers (mostly in neuroscience) can detect what the subject will choose to do, before the subject is consciously aware of it.
I think this will give my opponent (if there even is one) a decent starting ground. Feel free to add any additional points for possible refutation.

*It's worth mentioning that I'm arguing this in a scientific point of view rather than a philosophical point of view. I realize I put this in the "philosophy" category, that's because my understanding of the counterarguments to this position are mostly philosophical. Of course, this doesn't undermine their positions and I'm completely open to persuasion.*
Beginner

Con

"the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion."
Since fate is a vague concept I will ignore it for now and will wait to see how my opponent chooses to argue fate if he argues fate.

Evidence of free will:
Things we've chosen to do outside of necessity based on our own discretion:
1)You and I both chose to make this debate topic.
2)We both made an account on Debate.org
3)We both (probably) play video games.
4)People do commit suicide - contradicts necessity[1]
.
.
.
n) Anything and everything we do.
.
.
.
etc)

There's no such thing as objective necessity: I assert that ultimately nothing is objectively necessary. Since nothing is necessary objectively, everything we do exists outside of constraints of objective necessity. Therefore the definition of free will is objectively satisfied and objectively unfalsifiable.

I will provide refutations later. I turn the round over to my opponent for him to establish his case.


[1] https://www.afsp.org...;
Debate Round No. 1
JalenCaudill

Pro

I'm going to consolidate all of your 4 evidences into one basic phrase: We choose to perform our actions. Please feel free to correct me if you feel this is a Straw Man.

All of your statements are true. Choices are real and they matter, I don't argue this. However, I argue that thoughts spontaneously arise in consciousness. Example: I chose to make an account on debate.org but I could (and probably should) have chosen to work on my college history paper. Why did I do this? In hindsight, I could say that it's because I read Sam Harris' book on Free Will and wanted a medium to have a friendly debate on this topic, but I truly wasn't aware at the time of making the account. Basically, every choice that you are consciously aware of is the result of background causes in which you are not aware.

Also, if you wish, please go into more detail in your "there's no such thing as objective necessity" argument.

That was my philosophical/metaphysical argument, now onto the scientific point of view.

fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) is a method of measuring brain activity in neuroscience. Basically, it's a more accurate measure of fluctuating neuron activity. It's needed because different neurons fire at different rates based on the activity being performed. This is an elementary explanation seeing as I'm obviously not a neuroscientist.

A study done by John-Dylan Haynes in 2008 using fMRI asked participants to push a button with either their left or right index finger. Also, they had to remember a specific letter that was shown on a screen before consciously deciding to push their desired button. With this, they were able to determine the participants decision with 80% accuracy and within 700 milliseconds of them becoming consciously aware of it. BP (blood pressure) spikes were detectable up to 10 seconds before a decision was made. This is because the body was preparing for an upcoming conscious decision, that's what causes the BP spike.

Sources:
http://io9.com...

http://fmri.ucsd.edu...
Beginner

Con

I'd like to thank Jalen for a clear response.

From what I understand, my opponent's main arguments are
1) we have developed ways to predict people's actions - therefore the choice to commit to those actions isn't free will..
2) other factors may contribute to an act - the act therefore is not an act of free will.

Let us once again consider the definition of free will which I have provided above: "the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion."

There is no correlation between prediction and free will.
Free will is the power to act without the constraint of necessity or fate. Thus any act that isn't necessary, the acquisition of luxury and non-living essentials for example, is an act of free will.
The ability to predict acts of free will does not mean that acts of free will do not exist. For example, I could predict that a car moving at a constant speed of 50mph nonstop wlil cover a distance of 50miles every hour. The car exists.
Generically speaking, my opponent is claiming that the ability to predict an element A means that element A does not exist. That's ridiculous.

Miscellaneous contributing factors
Again, consider the definition of free will. Experiences may contribute to a person's choice to act without necessity's constraints, but the fact that they do in fact act without such constraints is absolutely indicative of free will. The same conclusion applies to my opponent's second general argument: there is no correlation between the argument and free will.

Conceded point - choice exists
"I'm going to consolidate all of your 4 evidences into one basic phrase: We choose to perform our actions. "
Therefore we always have the option/ability to act outside of necessity, satisfying the definition of free will.


==============================
There is no such thing as objective necessity

==============================
Although the existence of operations which most would agree are unnecessary, such as buying 50 pairs of shoes or using DDO, are sufficient to proving the existence of free will, I'm going to go one step further and say that all actions are not objectively necessary and thus, objectively, all actions affirm free will.
Let's test this shall we? Let's test the objective necessity of eating.
The test:
Many would agree that the act of eating is objectively necessary. Why is eating an objective necessity?
One could argue: "well, you'd die of you don't eat!" - the response is saying that life is an objective value, that not dying is objectively significant.
Alright, I will regress further and ask for affirmative evidence as to why life is an objective value.
One could argue: "look, life is important because it is precious and rare and beautiful."
And here is where life's supposed objectivity fails! Beauty is subjective. Appreciation of a thing for its rarity is subjective.
Life is subjective. Therefore anything that sets life as a value toward which we should strive: eating, breathing, sleeping, living, etc. are necessarily subjective.
Ergo, there is no such thing as objective necessity. Any act we do exists outside of objective necessity. It's as simple as seeing the fact that it is impossible for an act to be objectively necessary. Thus free will objectively exists and can be affirmed by any and all things that we choose to do.


Debate Round No. 2
JalenCaudill

Pro

I'm going to use this last round for brief rebuttals and a general closing statement.

My opponents car example seems odd. Your car example is one of mathematics, which can be definitively proven. There is no "prediction" in determining the speed of a car and concluding its distance, it's an equation (distance = speed*time). However, in regards to the experiment, "element A" is free will. Remember, the researches were able to determine with 80% accuracy which button the subjects were going to press about a full second before they were consciously aware. So, if the researches were able to measure "element A" to this extent, there is simply no scientific explanation for free will. This study also contradicts the "ability to act at one's own discretion" definition my opponent offered.

"All actions are not objectively necessary and thus, objectively, all actions affirm free will."
I'm going to use this quote to fuel my final statement. Once again, I will admit that even without free will, we have to make choices. Objective necessity is not needed to argue free will nor should it ever. One could choose to just lay in bed all day and do nothing. If free will truly is an illusion, why don't I just sit back and see what happens? This in itself is a choice, a really hard one at that. Just try to sit, lay, or stand and do absolutely nothing. You will feel compelled to do something. My point of view is saying that thoughts and impulses simply arise in consciousness of which you are not consciously aware. You are no more in control of the next though that pops into your head than you are in the next thing I type.

Also, I would like to personally thank you for making my first debate on here a pleasurable experience. Free will is a very touchy subject for most people so many will just assert that it's real without hearing argumentation. I probably should have extended this another round or 2, but this gave me a decent framework if I ever choose to debate this topic again.
Beginner

Con

Rebuttals and closing statements

PRO: "My opponents car example seems odd."
My opponent points out the single discrepancy between my example and his research: Researchers can determine with 80% accuracy the choices a person may take while my example has a 100% accuracy. This discrepancy does not negate the fact that being able to predict something, no matter how accurate, does not negate the thing's existence. Free will exists whether or not you can predict its course.

PRO: "So, if the researches were able to measure "element A" to this extent, there is simply no scientific explanation for free will"
Basically, my opponent is saying: "If researchers were able to measure "element A" to this extent, then there is simply no scientific explanation for "element A". This syllogism makes no sense whatsoever.
Anyway, we can measure atomic motion to quite an extent, does that mean there's no scientific explanation here?

PRO: "If free will truly is an illusion, why don't I just sit back and see what happens? This in itself is a choice, a really hard one at that. Just try to sit, lay, or stand and do absolutely nothing. You will feel compelled to do something. My point of view is saying that thoughts and impulses simply arise in consciousness of which you are not consciously aware. "
Simply, you test the existence of free will by choosing to do nothing. You conclude that since reasoning would compel you to eventually choose to do something else, free will doesn't exist. Being compelled to do something does not mean free will doesn't exist. Remember, free will is choice outside of necessity. Chemical reactions in your brain that tell you to eat or work are not necessities. That you choose the option against these reactions is, in fact, utter proof of free will.
Also, it's impossible to not be consciously aware of something that is in your conscious mind. Unless you mean to say subconscious, your statement contradicts itself.

PRO: "You are no more in control of the next though that pops into your head than you are in the next thing I type."
Quick: think about Bananas!!! There, now you're thinking about bananas. I exerted some stimulus of control and you did exactly what I wanted you to do: think about bananas. While I can't control what you type, I can, to some extent, control what you think. What does that say about free will?
Ok, here's a simple exercise: think of and list as many fruits as you possibly can. Commit yourself to this exercise.

Do it.

D:<

Fruits.

Congratulations, you've effectively controlled your brain to think exclusively of fruits. Any thought that popped into your mind was interspersed with different kinds of fruits. You are in control of the thoughts that pop into your head. Chemical reactions that tell our minds to think thoughts of eating and breathing cannot be controlled. I'm not saying that you have complete control over your mind. You have partial control of it, and so do I (as per the banana example).

The definition of free will is to be able to choose to act outside of necessity, and has nothing to do with the number of choices we have.

"even without free will, we have to make choices."
Our choices are not objectively necessary, satisfying the definition of free will, which was my point in the first place. Rather than address my point, you blatantly assert: "Objective necessity is not needed to argue free will nor should it ever"
However, the definition of free will specifically involves necessity. You can claim free will to be whatever you want it to be, but that doesn't make it anything other than it is.

In conclusion, my opponent does not prove that free will doesn't exist. Conversely, I've satisfactorily shown free will to exist as per its definitions.

I'd like to thank my opponent for a quick but interesting debate and wish him luck in further BANANASSS endeavors.
I'd also like to thank the readers for reading.

Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by JalenCaudill 2 years ago
JalenCaudill
I understand. It's just an interesting issue for me. I've lived the past year or so like I don't have free will and it has helped me understand some of my own decisions and the decisions of others around me.

This debate may never be objectively solved, but I still think it's worth discussing :D.
Posted by Beginner 2 years ago
Beginner
Mm, I still think that your point of view is wrong. Namely that free will is not total or complete. I believe that we have free will, however limited it is.
Posted by JalenCaudill 2 years ago
JalenCaudill
That sucks. I think a lot of people see the "phone number" requirements for voting and decide not to. I wish this website would make it simpler.

But yeah, I only have a rudimentary grasp on the PRO side of this argument. I definitely didn't give it full justice. If you want a more complex version, watch some of these:

https://www.youtube.com...
https://www.youtube.com...
https://www.youtube.com...

He is vastly more intelligent than I am on this subject. But again, thanks for giving me some counters to further examine.
Posted by Beginner 2 years ago
Beginner
It'd be interesting to see a better articulated version of your thoughts. Hope to see you formalize it in the future. :)

2 votes isn't too bad. When I started out, I had over half my debates with 0 votes.
Posted by JalenCaudill 2 years ago
JalenCaudill
Congrats to "Beginner' for winning. Disappointing that only 2 people voted but still counts nonetheless. Their votes made me realize I need to read up more on this subject to be able to articulate my points better. I'm still confident that free will is an illusion but I understand why the voters voted the way that they did.
Posted by Beginner 2 years ago
Beginner
Pssh. I wrote my entire argument and disconnected when I tried to submit. GG. >_>
Posted by philochristos 2 years ago
philochristos
Another suggestion is that you should define "free will." It's a really slippery phrase. You can ask ten different people and get ten different definitions. In philosophy, there are two major definitions with nuances of meaning within each. You appear to be talking about libertarian freedom, but you should say so to avoid confusion.
Posted by JalenCaudill 2 years ago
JalenCaudill
@Merphie Cool! I don't know how to directly respond to comments (if there is a way) as I just joined this site today. But yeah, I'll mostly be using the Sam Harris narrative, which a lot of people see as dogmatic.
Posted by Merphie 2 years ago
Merphie
The Sam Harris position. I'll take a stab at this because I don't think the evidence says what you think.
Posted by LostintheEcho1498 2 years ago
LostintheEcho1498
Welcome to DDO and just as a tip is is always a good thing to lay out a structure. Such as:
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Main Argument
Round 3: Rebuttal (no new info)

You can make it different but its simply a suggestion. You can always look at Ragnar's beginner guide.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Prodigy0789 2 years ago
Prodigy0789
JalenCaudillBeginnerTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 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 
Reasons for voting decision: There is nothing that can sway the choices of the human mind. Never, ever, will there be puppet strings with humans on the receiving hands, obeying the will of a single master(s).
Vote Placed by Paleophyte 2 years ago
Paleophyte
JalenCaudillBeginnerTied
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 
Reasons for voting decision: Good debate by both sides. Tied in most respects. Con had slightly better arguments, demonstrating that simply because your choice can be predicted before you become aware of it does not mean that the choice was not made freely.