The Instigator
MTGandP
Con (against)
Winning
14 Points
The Contender
Mickeyrocks
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

Free will probably exists in humans.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/1/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 723 times Debate No: 8055
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)

 

MTGandP

Con

Free will: "...a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

To define further, this means that the choice of this rational agent (in this case a human) is not being influenced by any force, and is acting on its own.

I negate the resolution: Free will probably exists in humans. Since my opponent has the burden of proof, I will allow my opponent to make the first argument.

If my opponent uses a religious argument, my opponent must first prove that religion is a sound foundation to make arguments upon.
Mickeyrocks

Pro

To add to his definition of free will, I'd like to observe that free will must also mean free thought, because thinking is indeed an action. Actions need not be physical. Additionally, when he says:

"To define further, this means that the choice of this rational agent (in this case a human) is not being influenced by any force, and is acting on its own."

Observe that this is a ridiculous assumption, because it sets an unreachable burden by the Pro. Obviously some things influence our decision to a certain extent (i.e. we ride a bike because we are bored.) and so influence is not sufficient reason to negate. However, to redefine this sentence you can simply say: "Free will means that the ULTIMATE DECISION comes down the rational actor and is not WHOLLY determined by external conditions." This sets a fair grounds for the debate.

"Since my opponent has the burden of proof..."

- Burden of proof does not fall wholly to the Pro. Two reasons support this:

- When being a skeptic of the existence of a tangible item, we can assume that that which is not proven does not exist, insofar as we have limited a limited sphere of our perception of matter, and there is a definite line between existence and nonexistence (i.e. physical manifestation). When dealing with abstract objects, though, there is no brightline between existence and nonexistence, and our perception is infinite - so while we don't assume everything to exist, there becomes an equal burden on both sides, unless we find some tangible impact to existence / nonexistence, or logic dictates otherwise.

- The NEG provides a more far-retched / unreasonable reality (humans are automatons who have no purpose for life other than to reflect the external whims of nature), Occam's Razor demonstrates that the burden of proof rests on the one proposing a more ridiculous assumption.

So there's some reasonable parameters for the debate, I assume my opponent is going to use determinism etc, so most of the debate will be counterargument.

1) Twins.

I start my argument with a quote, by Ronald S. Wilson, Anne M. Brown and Adam P. Matheny, Jr.who conducted a study (Emergence and Persistence of Behavioral Differences in Twins) which concluded:

"The data from this study indicate that a wide range of within-pair behavioral differences are readily identified by the mothers of twins. Prominent among them is temper frequency, which stands out as a discriminating marker for individual differences from infancy through 6 years."
and

"When the genetic factor is held constant it will diminish but not abolish the singular features that characterize each twin."

Essentially, twins offer the only real analysis for a determinist argument, insofar as they remove genetics from the equation. If we eliminate this genetic factor, then we look to social conditions that may have an influence. But when those social conditions are ALSO controlled for, it lends credibility to the assumption that humans are inherently different, and choose their personality. Even in infancy, before babies can comprehend surroundings or communicate - when they are their very youngest - they have individual differences, the most prominent difference is temper which the environment does not conclusively have an impact on.

2) Necessary assumption in order to negate.

- The negative MUST assume, in order for his side to be legitimate, that there is genetic basis for thought.

- Observe that psychologists, geneticists, biologists, neurologists, sociologists etc - have not linked WHAT we think about, or HOW we value things to any genetic background. It is the FIRST burden of the negative to prove conclusively that individuals think about specific things for predetermined reasons. If he cannot prove this, then we would automatically affirm. Moreover, social factors do not account for inherent differences between twins temperament, likes / dislikes etc (as I show in point one.)

So basically:

1) When genetics and social environment is controlled for, individuals still act differently.
2) There is no genetic foundation for thought, and there is also no provable, or existent, source that shows society being a sufficient explanation for what we think about, and what we like.
Debate Round No. 1
MTGandP

Con

I agree with my opponent's refinement of my second definition, and accept this as an alternative: "Free will means that the ultimate decision comes down to the rational actor and is not wholly determined by external conditions."

The reason I stated that my opponent has burden of proof is that I was thinking that it is not possible to scientifically prove that free will does not exist. After I thought about it I realized that this is not actually true, since if twins were raised in identical conditions and performed the exact same actions, then this would disprove free will (or at least prove it to be very unlikely). I am, however, planning on using logical arguments and not scientific ones. So I accept that I have burden of proof as well as my opponent. In light of this, I request that my opponent forfeit the last round so that we get an even number of posts.

"The NEG provides a more far-retched / unreasonable reality (humans are automatons who have no purpose for life other than to reflect the external whims of nature), Occam's Razor demonstrates that the burden of proof rests on the one proposing a more ridiculous assumption."
Although this is a side point, I disagree. Things with no free thought are simpler than those with free thought, and the simplest explanation is the most likely.

Why Free Will Is Impossible

Every event is caused by a preceding event. To our knowledge, events do not happen unless they are caused by a previous event. This works all the way down to the molecular level. If every event is caused by another event, free will is impossible since it is simply the effect of some cause. Even if twins are raised in very similar social factors, chaos theory must be taken into account. There is so much going on within an environment that it is impossible to perfectly replicate with current technologies; even the fact that one twin is born first could significantly affect the outcome of his or her entire life. A single atom moving in a different direction could change everything.

"The negative MUST assume, in order for his side to be legitimate, that there is genetic basis for thought."
I am not arguing that our choices are entirely dictated by genetics. I am arguing that they are dictated by genetics AND by external and internal factors. Since everything is caused by something else (except for the first cause), each event is dependent on a previous one, and free will is not possible under these circumstances since free will requires independent events.

The first cause (whatever it was, or if it even existed) cannot be a source of free will, since there can only be one first cause if we are accepting that everything is caused by something else. But what if we do not accept that everything was caused by something else?

An event that is truly independent of every other event is fundamentally unpredictable: if it could be predicted, then it would not be independent. It is therefore random. And randomness is not free will, it is just randomness. Having a set of choices and choosing one randomly is not free will. Having a set of choices and making a choice that is dependent on a previous event is not free will either. As these are the only two possible scenarios, free will is not possible. Because of this, my opponent's arguments are irrelevant.
Mickeyrocks

Pro

Mickeyrocks forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
MTGandP

Con

My arguments from the previous round carry over to this round. Since my arguments make my opponent's arguments irrelevant, and my arguments have not been refuted, vote CON.
Mickeyrocks

Pro

Mickeyrocks forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
MTGandP

Con

Vote for me!
Mickeyrocks

Pro

Mickeyrocks forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Maikuru: In fairness, I gave myself the vote for every category. But I don't think it matters that much, since right now I have infinity percent more points than my opponent.
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
It's admirable that you fairly judge the debate, despite 3 forfeits by your opponent. I'm not that generous.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Conduct: My opponent forfeited, so this goes to me.
S&G: Tie.
Arguments: My opponent did not rebut any of my contentions, so this goes to me as well.
Sources: My opponent and I each have one source, so this is a tie.
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Mickeyrocks' account has disappeared...
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Thinking is physical. It's just very very small.
Posted by Mickeyrocks 8 years ago
Mickeyrocks
Thinking is a mental function but it's still an action.
Posted by TheSkeptic 8 years ago
TheSkeptic
" Actions need not be physical"

...What?!
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
MTGandPMickeyrocksTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Vote Placed by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
MTGandPMickeyrocksTied
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Total points awarded:70