The Instigator
TUF
Pro (for)
Winning
3 Points
The Contender
Swagnarok
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

It is more plausible that Free Will exists, than Determinism

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
TUF
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/8/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,645 times Debate No: 102498
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (21)
Votes (2)

 

TUF

Pro

Hello there and welcome to round 1 of SolonKR's Official May Tournament! The official thread for round 1 can be found here: http://www.debate.org...

I am very excited for this debate and I hope that my opponent and I can both learn and grow from each others arguments in this debate. I will be taking the stance of Free Will, while my opponent will be arguing for Determinism.

"Free Will: freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention" (1)

"Determinism: a theory or doctrine that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws " (2)

We will be arguing whether choices can be made autonomously, or if they are pre-determined by fate. As our tournament host has not made any specific pre-made rules that need be outlined for debate structure, I will not seek to add any as well. I expect my opponent and myself can both agree to a civilized friendly debate and hope there are no mis-understanding with the resolution or the specific side we each are taking. If there are any mis-conceptions of what we will be arguing, it is expected that a private message will be sent prior to the acceptance of this challenge. I look forward to an intellectually stimulating debate, and wish my opponent good luck. I will leave the first round for acceptance, and will begin my arguments in round two. Thankyou in advance for accepting this debate, sir swagnarok!



1. https://www.merriam-webster.com...
2. https://www.merriam-webster.com...
Swagnarok

Con

I thank TUF for issuing this challenge, and I apologize for taking so long to see it and accept it. Make your case, and in the meantime enjoy this random awesome video:
https://m.youtube.com...
Debate Round No. 1
TUF

Pro

Casuality in Determinism does not dis-prove Free Will

How free are our actions? Are the 'choices' we make really choices, or were we destined to choose the same thing no matter what options presented themselves? I hope to answer this question throughout the debate. Through a libertarian belief system, one might say that everything we do is a choice made of our own desire. Of course it is not so simple as that, as a determinist can easily counter that by saying the choice in question was made for a reason based on past events, and that our desires our based on past events and circumstances. In fact, any hypothetical that can be made can also be countered by a determinist as being a decision based on prior events. This terminology is most often referred to by determinists as "Causation".
"Causal determinism is, roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature." (1)

Because this line of reasoning is so strong with determinism, it is applied to most every argument. Those who argue for causal determinism can almost seem like the little kid you went to pre-school with, that always said "Nuh uh" to everything you said. But it's not entirely baseless. In fact it would be silly to say that the decision you make at any point in time isn't based on some prior reasoning. What libertarianists seek to argue, however, is that we are still free to make choices as we will despite prior influences.

The word "freedom" does not mean "freedom from causality or materialism", it means "freedom from compulsion or restraint". Thus, if will exists, it can exert its influences through causal relations. Causality provides constraints, not unfreedom. Gravity limits the conditions under which a person can fly, but it does not prevent flying. The causal sequences by which nerve stimulation results in muscular action give the will the freedom to manifest itself in the world. (2)

Prior reasoning can certainly influence a decision, but to emphatically say that it is the sole reason is where the flaw begins.

A) The Randomness (Freedom) Requirements

In order for randomness (in this context Freedom) to work against causality, there are several requirements that need be in effect to satisfy libertarians, that show it is far from un-intelligible. These requirements also act as the building theory of evidence behind the justification of free will.

-Chance Exists.

The essential argument being that the outcome of an event can be a diverse as the unknown variables when rolling dice.

Epicurus was influenced strongly by Aristotle, who regarded chance as a fifth cause. He said there must be cases in which the normally straight paths of atoms in the universe occasionally bend a little and the atoms "swerve" to prevent the universe and ourselves from being completely determined by the mechanical laws of Democritus. (3)

- Indeterminism must be true

Indeterminism, being a failure of one of the determinism's. This being a requirement to fulfill a libertarian's belief. Indeterminism for some philosophers is an event without a cause (4)

-Our actions can be un-predictable

While it is easy to imagine a world where the three faculties of reason - perception, conception, and comprehension- are viewed deterministically, and quantum events do not interfere with normal operations. But such a thing called quantum noise throws the equation into question, quantum noise being able to introduce random errors into a persons stored memories. This quantum noise effectively is able to create random associations of ideas during memory recall. (5)

A simple example is a dream. A dream that is created purely of ones own subconcious that can sometimes change or distort memories, which can in turn add a level of uncertainty or unpredictableness to a decision.

-Our actions are up to us

Also commonly referred to as moral autonomy, that we are each individually held responsible for actions. Analytic Philosopher John Locke summarizes the word analogy of free will, where "free" applies to the agent, and not the "will", which belongs to the mind. The debate between Philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus comes to Epicurus's questioning of future events. "A future event could not be fated and logically necessitated unless the causes of that event are already present." (6)

-There are alternative possibilities

Quite simply, that there are alternate possibilities that for determinists are different changes to causality chains, linking to different pre-determined actions. Harry Frankfurt's principle of alternate possibilities states "a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise.” (7)

-Causal Chains

Causal Chains or 'Casua Sui' is the idea that a quantum event can play a role in creating a new chain of events. A quantum mechanical event is initially only one atomic (or subatomic) particle that is here rather than there, or events that do or do not occur - unpredictably. (8)

-Creativity

We humans create works of art, mathematical principles, the very essence of ideas, even ideas that form philosophies like determinism. Fundamentally, philosophy seems to be a derivative of free will that can't be refuted even on a sub-atomic level.

It is through the basic fundamentals that libertarianism is justified. I will attempt to refute the determinist view of causal chains, through logical principles based around the requirements of free will. It is my view that the easy argument of "This only happened because of this" Seems to be at it's very core, a flawed argument. Unless the very specific root cause for any action can ultimately be determined by the third party observer, it seems naturally ignorant to discredit any possibility for uncertainty in any morally autonomous choice. To dis-reagard un-predictability in the equation of any logical argument, there needs to be a solid proof presented that demonstrates why someone could not have acted any other way even when presented with multiple choices.

I will end my opening arguments here, and stand-by for my opponents response. Good luck!

1. https://plato.stanford.edu...
2. http://www.benbest.com...
3. http://www.informationphilosopher.com...
4. http://www.informationphilosopher.com...
5. http://www.informationphilosopher.com...
6. http://www.informationphilosopher.com...
7. http://www.informationphilosopher.com...
8. http://www.informationphilosopher.com...

Swagnarok

Con

The notion that people are not in control of their actions is not a popular one. One of the famous dialogues of The Matrix went like this:

Morpheus: Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Neo: No.
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.

However, we as a society are generally eager to make conclusions based on this premise. For example, defense lawyers will sometimes argue that their clients aren't totally responsible for their actions because they "had a bad childhood" or "have a genetic predisposition" towards violence. Here's one example:
http://villagenews.com...
We're eager to accept the premise that bad upbringing makes criminal activity more likely. Likewise, liberals like to claim that Trump can't be credited for his high net worth because he was born into wealth, even though he apparently only received "a small loan" of a million dollars which he eventually turned into billions. So we're willing to accept determinism in certain situations, mainly when it suits some sort of political agenda. In this debate I'm going to argue for the logical conclusion of this reasoning, which is that no human action is really free (that is, freely chosen instead of predetermined by an abstract force, be it referred to as "fate", "scientific laws", "destiny", "divine will", etc).


Point #1: An appeal to rationalism
Every phenomenon in the Universe can be explained by natural causes. Lightning can be explained. Planetary orbit can be explained. Behavioral patterns of animals can be explained. Humans are a part of this Universe and are subject to the same laws of the Universe as everything else. Therefore, if humans are composed of purely natural substance (i.e. no "soul"), then the only logical conclusion is that our actions are predetermined by the laws of nature.
That being said, the human brain is an extremely complex instrument. Predicting the "choices" of a man are nearly impossible because it's seemingly random.
Another supposed example of randomness is the double pendulum. Here's a video of one in action:
https://m.youtube.com...
Looks totally random, doesn't it? But we all know it really isn't. We accept that, while its trajectory may be too complicated to predict, it could in theory be predicted with perfect accuracy, just like a dice or a flip of a coin, which seems to have a random outcome, is in fact predictable (In fact, my younger brother seems to have learned how to flip a coin and know what side it's gonna land on). Human thought processes are near infinitely more complex than a double pendulum. However, we aren't exempt from this same principle, since we're subject to the same universal laws as the double pendulum is.
Imagine that you put a man in a magic room. The temperature of the room is constant. The level of lighting is constant. The noise level emitted by forces other than the man is constant, and it's always the same thing. Under these conditions, provided that an outside monitor had a planet-sized supercomputer, was able to scan the exact initial thought processes of the man upon entering the room, how he would perceive and experience his surroundings and what kind of effect these experiences would have on his thought processes, and the sum of all his past experiences and thought processes, could theoretically predict his every action. That's determinism.
Of course, it's more complicated than that. Humans are not trapped in a room. They're trapped on a gigantic spherical object known as Earth, which is acted upon by other stellar bodies such as the sun, the moon, and the solar planets and the stars which are visible from the Earth from time to time. Each extremely complex person acts upon another and another and another, just like a billiard ball bouncing around hits other billiard balls and causes them to bounce around. Furthermore, there are microscopic variables affecting the experiment (for example, when your blood's flowing through your body a single blood cell might get lodged somewhere, which could through the butterfly effect end up having profound effects on your body). So predicting it all is truly impossible. It's unpredictable in the sense that there's too much to predict, not that predicting it would contradict the laws of the Universe.

Point #2: An appeal to Religion:
Many religions, such as Christianity, say that humans have a soul, which means that we are not purely natural beings. However, this simply means that, if the natural Universe is a closed system (which it isn't 100% since the supernatural must be acting upon this world to some degree through natural human beings having souls and having supernatural experiences), it is contained within a larger supernatural universe, which in turn must be a closed system. Somewhere up the "chain" it must become a closed system, after which everything inside, all the way down the chain, could theoretically be predicted. You're simply adding complexity to the equation, but it's still an equation.
Furthermore, the world's three Abrahamic religions agree that human will is subject to God's. For example, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times "before the rooster crows". If Peter really had a choice in the matter, would Jesus really have made that prediction and possibly end up having been contradicted by the facts? Would he not rather have said, "Before the rooster crows, three situations will arise that will tempt you to deny me"? On another occasion, He predicted that, had He preached the Word in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have repented.
In Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, God is omnipotent and omniscient. A being who knows everything would know not only what has been and what will be, but also the outcome of any contingency imaginable, meaning God is not omniscient simply because He "looks" into the future through His omnipotence.

Point #3: Deconstructing a Choice
My name is Dirk. I can't decide between ice cream or cake for dessert. The cake would be sweeter than the ice cream, but cake doesn't come with that same cold sensation as ice cream. At this particular moment, my body wants sweet more than cold. Just going by this it would be illogical for me to choose ice cream over cake. There's no good reason to assume I would get ice cream just based on this, as I think anyone would agree. However, let's say that there's a variable. There's one piece of cake left and my little sister really wants it. At this moment I am influenced by altruistic sentiments (my susceptibility to such being determined by prior factors and life circumstances), which override the stronger desire for cake and result in me picking ice cream. It does not mean that, in choosing the dessert I wanted less, that I exercised free will. This is an extremely simplified formula for a very simple choice, but all choices can be reduced to scientific/mathematical equations. Math problems have objective, not subjective answers. You cannot choose for 2+2 to equal 17, and people cannot choose for the equation to have a different outcome than the mathematically sound one.

I await my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 2
TUF

Pro

I thank my opponent for his responses, I will jump into rebuttals.

It seems the under-lying flaw of logic I find his arguments running into, is that his mindset seems to be that having pre-existing reasons is essentially the equal to that of a pre-determined fate. Libertarianism doesn't seek to prove that the way a person is raised, or their biology doesn't at all attribute to the choices and actions they make. We humans are animals, and operate on instincts the same as any species does. That does not mean we are bound to a set of choices, however. My opponent starts his intro off using the defense lawyers argue that pre-existing conditions effect the choices of the individuals they are defending. First of all, the word of a lawyer with an obvious goal to win there case, is not an objective measure of proof that the person they are protecting had no other choice than to act the way they did. The requirements for free will state that for an action to truly be free, there must be alternate possibilities, and in the case of criminal activity, there must certainly be alternate possibilities. Many psychopaths can change behaviors to fit into a society themselves despite biological probings. A great example being James Fallon, author of "The psychopath inside: a Neuroscientists personal journey into the dark side of the brain".

In an interview by article writer Judith Ohikuare, he is asked several questions about how life is for him, and how his behavior effects the people around him. In general he has a hard time connecting to people close to him, often times not being able to give the same love back that is given to him. Being aware of his psychopathy, James is still able to make decisions and choices that go against his chronic narcissistic tendencies.

"So what I do, in this situation, is think: How do I treat the people in my life as if I'm their son, or their brother, or their husband? It's about going the extra mile for them so that they know I know this is the right thing to do. I know when the situation comes up, but my gut instinct is to do something selfish. Instead, I slow down and try to think about it. It's like dumb behavioral modification; there’s no finesse to this, but I said, well, why does there have to be finesse? I’m trying to treat it as a straightaway thing, when the situation comes up, to realize there’s a chance that I might be wrong, or reacting in a poor way, or without any sort of love—like a human." (1)

The same way that James Fallon has freedom over the choices he makes, so do criminals with violent tendencies, or even millionaires to expand their own collective fortune like Donald Trump. I re-iterate the quote from Ben Best "Gravity limits the conditions under which a person can fly, but it does not prevent flying".

R1) An Appeal To Rationalism

This argument seems to be in contrast with the one of the basic freedom requirements, the "Chance Exists" requirement. My opponent attempts to debunk "randomization" through the example of the swinging pendulum. While my opponent is accurate that the use of science and physics may predict the outcome of dice and the movement and trajectory, to say that randomness doesn't exist because of these calculated measures, is not an effective argument. Even in my opponents example of the man with in the room, he can only say that theoretically his choices can be determined. The example is in-sufficient when the free-thinking agent cannot be monitored in conjunction with reality. Quantum indeterminacy however, is proof that randomness does in fact exist. Quantum mechanics flatly contradicts Con's conception of the universe by demonstrating that sub-atomic particles are NOT subject to predetermined fates. Particle movements have been revealed to be largely indeterministic & random, and the closest physicists have come to quantifying them is calculating probability distributions.(2) While nature can be predicted, it's expected result is not always accurate. That's not to say it can't be predicted more accurately through advancement in technology, just that Determinism doesn't have undeniable proof for every action. In fact, many determinist's often get away with making claims that every action that effects another actor, means that the movement of the actor was pre-determined (for example, Con pointing out that people are like billiard balls). Simply having interacted with another individual is not proof that what happens next for that individual had to have happened, there is simply no definitive proof that cause and effect = determinism.

R2) An Appeal to Religion

Not having a belief in theism myself, I find it odd that the Con world believes in determinism in the same spectrum as theism. Assuming the bible isn't just made up stories and that all the ludicrous happenings described therein are true, even then it doesn't erase human freedom of choice. When talking about Jesus's predictions of Peter's actions, (let's assume that this event happened in a scientifically objective way that was understood by all as fact) is it not impossible for someone to guess accurately someone's choices based on your personal knowledge of the individual? Especially one with the ability to speak to God and receive insight from a higher power. I can probably predict accurately that if I asked Yvonne Strahovski out to dinner with me 3 times, she would probably tell me "No" all three times. Probability and accurate predictions are not fatalism, as any hardened gambler could probably vouch for. Going further on this, even inciting the existence of God brings up another debate very relevant to Fatalism, through the use of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. If the Universe has a cause which brought forth a god, there had to be a beginning reason for the creating of a God. A whole realm of questions arises from this if we are to further continue the argument that every action is associated with a reason. What reason did the Universe create a God, and from where did this reason become? It's impossible to analyze a deterministic world while simultaneously sporting a theistic worldview.


"The first argument states that an actual infinite cannot exist. A part of an infinite set is equal to the whole of the infinite set, because both the part and the whole are infinite. Imagine for example an infinite collection of red and black balls. The number of red balls in this set is equal to the total number of all balls in the set, because both are infinite. The same holds for the number of black balls in the collection. Thus, the number of red balls equals the number of black balls equals the sum of all red and black balls. Obviously, the idea of an actual infinite collection leads to absurdities. This is also true for a set of historical events: it can be derived that the occurrence of a truly infinite set of events happening before a certain moment in time is impossible." (3)

R3) Deconstructing a Choice

My opponent illustrates an example of a simple choice between choosing ice-cream and cake, and claims that the choice is comprised of scientific/mathematical equations. Con shows that variables can effect choices, and vaguely implies that by choosing an altruistic path, your are not exercising free will. Yet he doesn't make it clear "why". If your biological desires would prefer the cake over the ice-cream, to be willing to choose against your own will, is exactly the kind of evidence that is needed to prove Determinism is a constant. I can cross apply the psychopath example here as well. To counter my opponents example with one of my own, I will demonstrate how his example proves determinism wrong by quoting Steve Murphy from the hit Netflix original "Narcos".

Back then [1970's], we were just finding out about the effects of cocaine on the human brain. We didn't know much, but we knew it was some pretty powerful [expletive]. Cocaine hijacks the pleasure centers in the brain. A rat will choose cocaine over food and water. It would choose cocaine over sleep, over sex... over life itself. The human brain isn't quite the same as a rodent's...(4)

That my opponent agrees that a human can choose the altruistic rational option (by allowing his sister to have the cake despite his preference for it) he himself is showing us that Free Will exists. While we are animals just like a Rat, we have Alternative Possibilities (Another freedom requirement) that we can choose for any reason. The Rat operates deterministically, while a free thinking agent can exercise free will.

I thank my opponent for a fantastic round, and wish him luck in further rounds. I look forward to the remainder of this intellectually stimulating debate.

1. https://www.theatlantic.com...
2. https://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org...
4. http://www.imdb.com...

Swagnarok

Con

My opponent started out Round 3 with this statement:
"It seems the under-lying flaw of logic I find in his arguments running into, is that his mindset seems to be that having pre-existing reasons is essentially the equal to that of a pre-determined fate."
Pro goes on to state:
"Libertarianism doesn"t seek to prove that the way a person is raised, or their biology doesn"t at all attribute to the choices and actions they make. We humans are animals, and operate on instincts the same as any species does. That does not mean we are bound to a set of choices, however."
So basically, Pro admits that we are influenced by neurology and life experiences, but he denies that we have to simply give in to these influences in choosing how to act. As an example he cites a man named James Fallon who, despite (presumably) being a psychopath, has chosen not to behave as such.
I see this narrative as being a bit simplistic. It rarely, if ever, is the case that a person"s behavior is driven by a single factor. People have primal instincts such as hunger, libido, aggression, etcetera but they also have consciences, desire to fit in with groups, desire to go to Heaven/avoid Hell, etc. These are all factors. My opponent assumes that the prevailing factor is dictated by actual chance/choice, that the outcome is not predetermined. However, this is not the case. It is predetermined that one side will ultimately "be stronger" than the other over the long term, and this is the side that will prevail. Some psychopaths are acted upon by other forces (i.e. a desire not to be a psychopath) which overrides their natural inclinations towards psychopathic behavior. For most, this is not the case and hence they act like psychopaths.
In naturalistic science, too, there is never just one factor. A falling object can be influenced by wind, weight, particulate matter in the atmosphere, etc. All of these determine the time it takes the object to hit the ground and the trajectory along which it falls. However, scientists could theoretically take all these factors into account and create a model which predicts everything about the fall. If humans are products of this universe, it logically follows that we are the same way.

In his response to "An Appeal to Rationalism", my opponent writes:
"While my opponent in accurate that the use of science and physics may predict the outcome of dice and the movement and trajectory, to say that randomness doesn"t exist because of these calculated measures, is not an effective argument. Even in my opponent"s example of the man within the room, he can only say that theoretically his choices can be determined. The example is insufficient when the free-thinking agent cannot be monitored in conjunction with reality."
My "man in the room" scenario was used as a hypothetical in which a single person"s actions can be isolated from outside factors and predicted. Literally the only difference between a man in the room and a man in normal conditions is that the man in normal conditions is acted upon by outside factors. I said "hypothetically" because human technology has not progressed to the point where this is possible, and even when it is possible, our machines cannot logically possess the ability to monitor and predict every variation down to an infinitely small level, since everything in the Universe, the greatest supercomputer man could ever build included, is ultimately finite in scope, as it"s contained within this Universe. Pi (3.14") presumably goes on forever; if this is the case, then billions or trillions of digits in Pi can be predicted but not all. This does not mean that Pi is random. It obviously does follow mathematic formulas, which is why predicting the next number in the Pi sequence is possible. Infinity is still bound by science and math, even though the science and math is too large for anything in the Universe to possibly understand and predict.
Or in other words, too big to predict =/= literally random.

My opponent has raised an objection to my "Appeal to Religion" section. I included it for a reason. If a theist were to hear my naturalistic arguments, he might object by saying "Well that"s only from a naturalistic standpoint. Humans have supernatural souls, which mean we aren"t merely acted upon by the natural laws of the Universe." Likewise, I included the naturalistic section because if I only appealed to religion, then an atheist might object by saying "Why are you using that religious nonsense as a serious argument?" By including both, I satisfy the objections from both groups.
My opponent brings up the possibility that Jesus predicted Peter"s denial simply through knowledge of Peter"s personality gained from 3 years spent with him. But again, if Peter had the ability to exercise free will, wouldn"t Jesus have said to him, "It"s probable that you"ll deny me, stay on guard against temptation and make the right choice"?
Ultimately, the Bible has made a number of predictions about what people were going to do before they did it. Regardless of whether or not you believe the Bible, it should be rather clear where the Bible stands on the matter of free will.
As for the reason for God"s existence, could it not be argued that God, being the source of everything, IS the source of everything, and thus is the very reason for His own existence?

In regards to my "Deconstructing a Choice" section, my opponent writes:
"My opponent illustrates an example of a simple choice between choosing ice-cream and cake, and claims that the choice is comprised of scientific/mathematical equations. Con shows that variables can affect choices, and vaguely implies that by choosing an altruistic path, you are not exercising free will. Yet he doesn"t make it clear "why". If your biological desires would prefer the cake over the ice-cream, to be willing to choose against your own will, is exactly the kind of evidence that is needed to prove Determinism is a constant."
As I said before, the biological desire for cake is not the only factor. You"re also affected by altruistic tendencies, be those natural or ingrained through socialization.
I have a question: have you ever been in a situation where, when experiencing severe hunger or cold, you forgot that you were feeling that way because you were so wrapped up in an interesting conversation? This demonstrates the principle of focus. Whatever you put your focus on plays a big role. While the pleasure of cake may be stronger than the pleasure derived from altruism or even the instinct towards altruistic behavior, at that moment your focus happens to be on the altruistic behavior more than it is on your desire for the cake, hence the triumph of a seemingly weaker impulse. However, the fact that you are focused on altruism rather than cake is also predetermined, so it does not "prove" free will by any means.

Cue Round 4.
Debate Round No. 3
TUF

Pro

I) INTRO REBUTTALS

Where we are stuck in this argument, is that my opponent is agreeing with me but not realizing it. He responds to the James Fallon argument by asserting that the desire to for him to attempt to defy his psychopathic tendencies in order to be better to his family, is determinism, as he chooses to favor this side over the side of following his instinctual tendencies. Obviously where his argument fails here, is that my opponent is admitting that one of the requirements of freedom is being met, that of alternative choices. To spite the natural biological choices that Fallon's body would prefer in order to fit in with society, proves not only that someone had multiple choices, but that his choice was free in that he chose the option that was more difficult to maintain. My opponent in no way accurately points out how the choice to act against one's own will is deterministic. He falls victim to the "nuh-uh" mindset that determinists often revert to without having to substantiate it. In order for my opponent to prove the argument that a psychopath ignoring his desires of narcissicm and un-attachment, he can't just simply say that every choice he could have made was pre-determined without justifying why it is just as easy for the psychopath to have made the altruistic choice if trying to change his lifestyle, rather than the easy choice. James Fallon is proof that freedom of choice exists. Deterministic arguments that state all choices are simply deterministic because every desire is equivalent, falls victim to the fallacy of circular reasoning. My opponent assumes all desires are equal, which is ridiculous. If a person sacrifices oneself it is impossible to say that his natural instinct of survival isn't strong enough to surpass a basic altruistic need. My opponent cannot assert that every choice is deterministic without providing an exact reason for each choice, and determinism often falls victim to broad under-specified arguments like "A falling object can be influenced by wind, weight, particulate matter in the atmosphere, etc". This takes out of context the required choice that makes determinism possible to begin with. In order for every action to be to determined, there needs to be a free thinking agent. A falling object isn't a free thinking agent making a choice. However even despite this, we are forgetting that quantum indeterminism more or less proves the direction of particles are random, so even the movement of the wind is being effected by the seeemingly random movements of particles.

R1) An Appeal to Rationalism


We come back to the man in the room argument, where my opponent admits that his actions cannot be determined in this hypothetical, only calculated and assume. My opponent rebunks this argument with a major flaw in logic, that determinism should be assumed because numbers like pi can stretch on infinitely. This ignores my un-answered qoute from my third source in the last round reffering to the Kalam Cosmulogical argument.

The second argument states that an actual infinite cannot be formed. History, or the collection of all events in time, is made up by sequentially adding one event after the other. It is always possible to add another event to history, which means the history of the universe is a potential infinite but can never be an actual infinite.

Alas we cannot debate a paradox. While my opponent can claim that every outcome of a choice can be predicted, he must admit he doesn't have proof, and even then has to seperate the numbers in pi from a free thinking agent. Odd how numbers in math, and science, are only finite so long as they are created by a free thinking agent? Even if we were to determine that pi is infinite, we cannot even use this as a relevant example to link to the man in the room. Even without advanced science and technology, we can put a person in an environment where we expect them to make certain decisions, but can still defy probability, as my opponent amply pointed out with the ice cream and cake scenario earlier.

R2) An Appeal to Religion

I'll qoute my opponent here for reference to his argument against Jesus's predictions: But again, if Peter had the ability to exercise free will, wouldn"t Jesus have said to him, "It"s probable that you"ll deny me, stay on guard against temptation and make the right choice"?

I cannot assume to predict what Jesus may or may not have said by trying to interpret his intuitions. But I can say that simply using the word "probably" debunks that Jesus has any supernatural abilities to predict a given future, be that given to him through prayer, or his own abilities. You can make an accurate assumption and guise it with confidence. Who knows? Maybe Yvonne Strahoski would date me. I can mean that she probably would say no, but say that she definitely would definitely say no, so that way if she does say no, I can claim to have the same supernatural talents as Jesus, even if I had a lucky guess.

Ultimately, the Bible has made a number of predictions about what people were going to do before they did it.

Also the bible scriptures that often are "predicting these things" according to Christians, are very vague and open to interpretation. One with enough free time could twist Bible passages to mean a great many a thing. It's like how the history channel does a documentary on big foot, and your superstitious mom eats the whole thing up as factual because the source is the History Channel. I think people may give the Bible too much credit as a source.

Next my opponent mentions that God's existence could be the reason for his existence, but completely ignores the reasoning in the Kalam Cosmological argument, that for every reaction there must be a cause, and the KCA's evidence that God is an "un-caused cause" as commonly reffered to by enthusiasts of the KCA argument.

R3) Deconstructing a choice

Simply being focused on something that spites instinct and natural desire, does not prove that your will is not free. Your very example of choosing to care more about a conversation with a friend over your bodies own screaming desires to be warm once again demonstrate that altruism is evidence of free will. We run again into the lack of substantiating for the argument that we have no control over having the conversation in the cold, or moving on to a warmer environment. And the example is narrow. Many times you can roll around the idea and debate whether or not you would rather be warm than have a conversation. This is more likely the case than just assuming someone's altruism is preffered.

My argument simplified is:

The logical choice: Keeping warm / Choosing your bodies desires for the cake
The empathetic choice: Listening to a friend / Giving your sister ice-cream
The underlying similiarity: Both scenarios are choices
The point: My opponent opened early stating the logical choice is the preferred choice, but himself has cited examples for me proving the logical choice is not always the prevalent one.

Conclusion:

Ultimately my opponent has refuted his own arguments. How can he state that bad upbringing resulting in criminals negates potential for altruism, while also arguing that altruism is a logical choice. Isn't in a criminals best interest (therefor logical) to choice altruism and not stick to behaviors they were raised on, and instead choose the path that leads them to freedom and oppertunity? Doesn't the very word "altruism" imply that a free choice is being made in that we are defying logic? My opponents argument chases itself in circles here.

What I am left with to believe by the end of this debate, is that Quantum indeterminancy (IE unknown factors) cannot all logically be assumed to be deterministic, and that altruism despite biological need proves freedom of choice. I believe all requirements for Libertarianism have been sustained in this debate.

I thank my opponent for a fantastic and enlightening debate, and wish him luck in his final round and the voting period.
Swagnarok

Con

As this debate nears its conclusion, I thank my opponent for an excellent debate, and I thank the judges for reading through it. In this last round I hope to solidly prove that human actions are not "free" in nature.
My opponent writes:
"Where we are stuck in this argument, is that my opponent is agreeing with me but not realizing it. He responds to the James Fallon argument by asserting that the desire to for him to attempt to defy his psychopathic tendencies in order to be better to his family, is determinism, as he chooses to favor this side over the side of following his instinctual tendencies. Obviously where his argument fails here, is that my opponent is admitting that one of the requirements of freedom is being met, that of alternative choices."

First we must define "alternative". Whenever flipping a coin, you don't generally know what it's going to land on, heads or tails. So you make a prediction, which is mere guesswork. In certain other scenarios, "probability" comes into play. That is, if you have to bet on one of two outcomes, it's a better idea to bet on one because you're "more likely" to be correct if that's the outcome you predict. However, probability is an illusion. It's simply knowledge of factors which come into play; there are more factors you don't know about, but you've willing to take a chance on the notion that those other factors won't be enough to overcome the factors you do know about, which are quite compelling and favor betting on a certain outcome. It's an educated guess, but it's still a guess, not because true randomness exists but because it's impossible to have all the facts.
So whenever we say that James Fallon has "alternative choices", what we mean to say is that there are other factors involved other than just his sociopathic tendencies, and we don't know if those other factors are strong enough to cause him to act like a non-sociopath, but they look like they could be, hence meaning that the guess that he'll overcome it is as good as the guess that he won't. Ultimately, though, one will be stronger than the other, and this much is predetermined by factors outside his conscious control.
I just have one question: If everyone "has a choice", then why do most sociopaths act like sociopaths? Why would most autistic people choose to act autistic, knowing that it leads to them being social outcasts?

1. Rationalism
My opponent brings up the Kalam Cosmological Argument, stated as following:
The second argument states that an actual infinite cannot be formed. History, or the collection of all events in time, is made up by sequentially adding one event after the other. It is always possible to add another event to history, which means the history of the universe is a potential infinite but can never be an actual infinite.
History is being added to constantly, sure: I'm not trying to claim that time stretches infinitely in both directions. This notion contradicts several known facts about the Universe: first, that the observable Universe contains a finite amount of usable energy. Since energy is constantly being expended, it logically follows that if the sun of all energy in the Universe constitutes a very large but ultimately finite number, then over the course of infinity it would all be depleted by now, since the Universe would've had a literally infinite amount of time up until now to burn itself out. I can concede this and it does absolutely nothing to debunk, discredit, or merely cast doubt on my claim that everything is predetermined.
My point in bringing up Pi is that, even if something is infinitely large and thus unpredictable, that does not mean that it "has free will". Pi is an abstract concept; therefore, it is not required to have any mass at all, meaning that it being conceptually infinite does not violate any universal laws. Rather, it's an abstract concept that's ingrained into the laws of the Universe by math, meaning that no matter under what circumstances you calculate Pi, that string of numbers will always be the same. The idea that at one point the number Pi "chose" how it should be calculated is clearly absurd, and my opponent would not try to argue this, or so I hope.

2. Religion
If my opponent wants to steer clear of religious arguments for or against determinism, that's fine with me. I'm under no obligation to defend the concept of God in a debate about free will.

3. Deconstructing a Choice
My opponent writes:
"Simply being focused on something that spites instinct and natural desire, does not prove that your will is not free. Your very example of choosing to care more about a conversation with a friend over your bodies own screaming desires to be warm once again demonstrate that altruism is evidence of free will."
I'm not going to spend this last section beating that same dead horse again. Rather, I would like to clarify.
In this example, you basically forget about the cold because you're focused on an interesting conversation. This much has little to do with altruism. Rather, it shows that a "weaker" desire can overcome a stronger one in a circumstance where one isn't thinking about and focusing on the stronger desire but instead on the weaker one. It's not the case that you "chose" to do something that nothing in your being wanted you to do and no existing circumstances compelled you to do against your desire for warmth.

Conclusion
The notion of free will is based upon misconceptions of decision-making, mainly the notion that if there's no immediate explanation for why you did something then you must've chosen to do it. I think I can confidently say that I've soundly refuted such notions, and I ask the judge to vote Con.
Debate Round No. 4
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Swagnarok 8 months ago
Swagnarok
hmm?
Posted by skipsaweirdo 1 year ago
skipsaweirdo
No body chooses to be born" is an irrelevant aspect of free will or determinism. Free will implies what occurs to someone after they have an ability to weigh options furyan. That comment of yours is a straw man as to what free will applies to.
The determining factor for all actions is happiness is a rather lofty assertion which you simply can't prove Furyan.
"No choice is free from a determining factor". LoL....By this logic people do not have at their control which memory can be recalled to use to help decide. I'd like to see you prove why people recall certain memories. We no association occurs but so does a conscious effort to create memories. Determinism is circular reasoning and there's absolutely no basis for believing that it affects the ability to choose. If we have the ability to choose then we have free will. People who argue everything is determined are using a straw man as to the definition of choice and the mechanisms behind what people consider "choices" or decision making. Its almost as if people are claiming that without gaining the knowledge of what a carrot tastes like cooked or uncooked then they would have never eaten a carrot cooked or uncooked. Why did they decide to cook a carrot? How did the first person choose to eat a carrot? You might argue because they have eaten other root edibles before. Well then how did someone choose to try a root vegetable for the first time in the history of humanity? This reasoning would be a fallacy of infinite regression.
Posted by skipsaweirdo 1 year ago
skipsaweirdo
"No body chooses to be born" is an irrelevant aspect of free will or determinism. Free will implies what occurs to someone after they have an ability to weigh options furyan. That comment of yours is a straw man as to what free will applies to.
The determining factor for all actions is happiness is a rather lofty assertion which you simply can't prove Furyan.
"No choice is free from a determining factor". LoL....By this logic people do not have at their control which memory can be recalled to use to help decide. I'd like to see you prove why people recall certain memories. We no association occurs but so does a conscious effort to create memories. Determinism is circular reasoning and there's absolutely no basis for believing that it affects the ability to choose. If we have the ability to choose then we have free will. People who argue everything is determined are using a straw man as to the definition of choice and the mechanisms behind what people consider "choices" or decision making. Its almost as if people are claiming that without gaining the knowledge of what a carrot tastes like cooked or uncooked then they would have never eaten a carrot cooked or uncooked. Why did they decide to cook a carrot? How did the first person choose to eat a carrot? You might argue because they have eaten other root edibles before. Well then how did someone choose to try a root vegetable for the first time in the history of himanity? This reasoning would be a fallacy of infinite regression.
Posted by skipsaweirdo 1 year ago
skipsaweirdo
"No body chooses to be born" is an irrelevant aspect of free will or determinism. Free will implies what occurs to someone after they have an ability to weigh options furyan. That comment of yours is a straw man as to what free will applies to.
The determining factor for all actions is happiness is a rather lofty assertion which you simply can't prove Furyan.
"No choice is free from a determining factor". LoL....By this logic people do not have at their control which memory can be recalled to use to help decide. I'd like to see you prove why people recall certain memories. We no association occurs but so does a conscious effort to create memories. Determinism is circular reasoning and there's absolutely no basis for believing that it affects the ability to choose. If we have the ability to choose then we have free will. People who argue everything is determined are using a straw man as to the definition of choice and the mechanisms behind what people consider "choices" or decision making. Its almost as if people are claiming that without gaining the knowledge of what a carrot tastes like cooked or uncooked then they would have never eaten a carrot cooked or uncooked. Why did they decide to cook a carrot? How did the first person choose to eat a carrot? You might argue because they have eaten other root edibles before. Well then how did someone choose to try a root vegetable for the first time in the history of himanity? This reasoning would be a fallacy of infinite regression.
Posted by 3RU7AL 1 year ago
3RU7AL
The Standard Argument Against Free-Will (TSAAFW)

1) Determinism is incompatible with free-will (an inevitable outcome is not a willful choice).
2) Indeterminism is incompatible with free-will (a random or probabilistic outcome is not a willful choice).
3) No clever mix of the two solve either incompatibility.

Therefore, free-will is an incoherent concept.
Posted by 3RU7AL 1 year ago
3RU7AL
The Standard Argument Against Free-Will (TSAAFW)

1) Determinism is incompatible with free-will (an inevitable outcome is not a willful choice).
2) Indeterminism is incompatible with free-will (a random or probabilistic outcome is not a willful choice).
3) No clever mix of the two solve either incompatibility.

Therefore, free-will is an incoherent concept.
Posted by TUF 1 year ago
TUF
Yes, some debates just don't expire.
Posted by tejretics 1 year ago
tejretics
Is there a voting period glitch now?
Posted by SolonKR 1 year ago
SolonKR
If there are no votes when I check in tomorrow, I'll cast a deciding vote. Hopefully someone votes before then, not least because I have negative hours of free time.
Posted by TUF 1 year ago
TUF
I can reach out to people and see if we can get votes. The Voters Union has been notified of this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by tejretics 1 year ago
tejretics
TUFSwagnarokTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Test.
Vote Placed by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
TUFSwagnarokTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: http://www.debate.org/forums/philosophy/topic/101509/