The Instigator
V5RED
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Lupricona
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

It is unlikely that we lack free will in some form

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/12/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 775 times Debate No: 80828
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
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V5RED

Pro

I will be arguing that, given the evidence, it is likely that humans have some form of free will. I will not be arguing for a mechanism of free will. I have no idea what the mechanism would be, but that is not crucial to my argument.

As an analogy, doctors do not know why it is that Beta Blockers treat heart failure, but the evidence shows that they do work. There are proposed mechanisms, but no generally accepted model exists. It even seems highly counter intuitive since beta adrenergics act by stimulating the heart and can lower blood pressure, but still they are first line therapy for heart failure.

In any event, in this debate Con is not required to demonstrate anything other than finding holes in my argument. The rounds are as follows:

Round 1: Pro and Con accept
Round 2: Pro presents his argument, Con posts a rebuttal or accepts the argument.
Round 3: Pro defends his argument, Con posts a refutation of the defense or accepts the argument.
Round 4: Final defense by Pro, Final rebuttal by Con.

Rules:
1) Con must accept evolution by natural selection as true.
2) Con's rebuttal cannot include a complaint that I do not include a mechanism for free will, but if Con can prove that free will is physically impossible, that is allowed.
3) Con accepts all definitions given by Pro in round 1.

Free will=Agents' choices are not predetermined. Given the same circumstances, it is possible for free agents to make different choices.

Apply to the debate in the comments.
Lupricona

Con

Thank you, V5RED, for allowing me to debate you in this topic. I look forward to a challenging discussion on the existence of free will.

I look forward to your arguments. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
V5RED

Pro

Note: I copy and pasted this from my own debate I went through yesterday. IT is all my work, I just didn't feel like rewriting it.

This argument is to demonstrate that free will exists based on the existence of consciousness and emotion.

Argument 1:
1) Traits that do not serve a purpose are a waste of energy to produce.
2) Natural selection selects against anything that wastes energy.
C) Therefore traits that do not serve a purpose will be selected against by natural selection.

This first part of the argument can be seen in vestigial traits like wisdom teeth and the depressions on cave fish where their eyes used to be. In fact, it is trivially easy for a trait to be removed via the process of DNA methylation. This is where a methyl group is added to part of DNA to "turn off" a gene. This commonly happens as a first step in removing useless traits. Another option for traits is that they can be altered to serve a new purpose, like the current model showing that the appendix has gone from a digestive organ to an immune one.
http://www.news-medical.net......

Building on argument 1, I look at two traits, consciousness and emotion.

This argument adapted for consciousness and emotion(argument 2) is as follows:
1) If consciousness and emotion served no purpose, then they would be weeded out by natural selection.
2) Consciousness and emotion have not been weeded out by natural selection(in fact the parts of the brain associated with them are expanding)
C) Therefore consciousness/emotional awareness serves a purpose.

Argument 3:
1) Computers process information(see below for a really cool example of this that is highly relevant to me)
2) Computers are not conscious/emotionally aware.
C) Therefore something exists that processes information without consciousness/emotional awareness.

Argument 4:
1) Consciousness/emotional awareness either is or is not required for information processing.
2) If things exist that can process information and lack consciousness, then consciousness/emotional awareness is not required for information processing
3) Non conscious/emotionally unaware objects exist that can process information.
C) Therefore consciousness/emotional awareness is not required for information processing

Computers lack self awareness, but they can respond to stimuli. They can do very complex things. Currently we can use computers attached to scanning devices to analyze the blood of patients for things like reticulocyte count and hematocrit to help us diagnose hematopathologies. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov......

Based on Arguments 2 and 4 we can conclude that consciousness and emotion have a purpose and that purpose is not necessary for processing information. This does not mean that they cannot aid in information processing or usage, just that they are not necessary for information processing to exist.

I have more than just a logical rebuttal. The logical rebuttal only shows that it is possible for a system to exist that processes information while lacking consciousness and emotional awareness, but it does not show that such a system could exist in biology. For that I will use the evidence of medical procedures.

A bilateral cingulotomy will remove the emotional aspect of pain while leaving the person aware that the pain is happening and where it is happening. Additionally, we can see on scans that the brain still is able to respond to the pain, it just no longer bothers the person. Why does this matter?
Argument 5:
1) If consciousness and emotional awareness are necessary for the brain to be able to process information necessary for survival, then removal of consciousness or emotion would result in removal of the person's ability to process necessary information.
2) Removal of the emotion of pain has been done in medical practice without removing the person's ability to process the necessary information of damaging stimuli.
C) Human brains do not require the emotion of pain to function.

The reason I went through all of that is to defend against the rebuttal that our brains have consciousness and emotion as an emergent property that is necessary for a system that can process information. The main argument is Argument 2. Arguments 4 and 5 defends against that possible rebuttal.

Now we know that the traits of emotion and consciousness persist, that they are easily removed without damaging the rest of the person(Argument 5), that they are not necessary for a functioning information processing system(Arguments 4 and 5), and that if they serve no purpose they would not exist(Argument 2).

All that remains is to name the purpose. I would submit that the only reasonable purpose is to allow us to reason through the information we process in order to make decisions, ie free will. In fact, I would suggest that it is irrational to assert that there is no free will in the face of these arguments. This does NOT prove free will, it just shows that it is more likely than not that we have free will.
Lupricona

Con

Thank you for supplying your arguments.

Before I get into your five arguments, I want to point out the resolution of the debate: "It is unlikely that we lack free will in some form."

You have five arguments that argue in favor of consciousness and emotion. However, one can have consciousness/emotion without the result of a free will. As an analogy, imagine that you are a passenger in a self driving vehicle. Although you are aware of all that is happening around you, and you have specific information for being inside of the car, you are not the one controlling it. In a similar way, it may be true that we have consciousness, but that may not have any CAUSUAL relations to actions that we take. If pro wants to prove that free will exists, he must argue that a consciousness does affect our actions. Otherwise, what I am arguing for may be true, namely, that we are products that react to internal and external stimuli that is beyond the control of consciousness.

When having any scientific theory, it is important that it be consistent with all of the empirical evidences. I want to bring attention to a study done in relation to consciousness and the free will:

Abstract: There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively 'free' decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.(1)

This research argues that the consciousness has no causal relationship to the decisions that we make. I ask pro to consider the conclusions of these results, and explain how there can be free will while the subconscious brain seems to be making all of the decisions.

Now, to the arguments you made:

Argument 1:
I accept the conclusion of this argument: Natural selection will select against traits that don't serve a purpose.

Argument 2:
I accept the conclusion of this argument: Consciousness/emotional awareness serves a purpose.

Argument 3:
I accept the conclusion: There are things that exist that process information without consciousness/emotional awareness.

Argument 4:
I accept the conclusion: Conscious awareness is not required for information processing.

To add to this point, I want to argue that even adding consciousness/emotional awareness to a system will not alter the behavior of the system. The system will still act as it was programmed to do. Recall the car analogy. The person in the car may have a specific internal experience that no one from the outside of the car will see, however, that specific internal experience does not have any causal relation to the motion of the car.

Argument 5:

I agree with the conclusion: Human brains to not require the emotion of pain to function.

As it turns out, I have agreed with the conclusions of the 5 arguments from my opponent. However, these arguments do not necessitate the conclusion that we have a free will. They do argue that we have a consciousness, and that there may be a use for it. I have no issues with conceding that the consciousness may have some use, as it does allow biological systems to have specific internal experiences.

If my opponent wants to prove the resolution, they must provide further arguments and evidence that support a casual connection between consciousness and free will, not merely equate them to the same thing.

As we are merely evolved mechanical organisms, we should understand that the consciousness throughout the variety of species is one of gradation. We may be more complex than other animals, but that does not mean that we are capable of choice. We are all organisms, wantons, that react to the environments and from internal desires, factors that we have no control over. And so collapses the courts of law, religion, and all of human civilization.

(1) http://www.nature.com...
Debate Round No. 2
V5RED

Pro

I was very clear in the first post that I would not be arguing for a mechanism for free will because I do not know of one. I am arguing that it exists, not that I know how it works. I even gave examples showing that we can know that a thing is true without knowing how. We know beta blockers work for heart failure(which is not their intended purpose and something for which many places still list them as contraindicated), but we do not know how. We know that we have consciousness, but we have no idea how it is that atoms could be self aware. I am under no obligation to provide a mechanism and I stated from the outset that I would not try to provide one.

"You have five arguments that argue in favor of consciousness and emotion. However, one can have consciousness/emotion without the result of a free will."
No, my 5 arguments assumed consciousness and emotion, they did not argue for them. The point of the arguments should be clear but I will repeat it here. "Now we know that the traits of emotion and consciousness persist, that they are easily removed without damaging the rest of the person(Argument 5), that they are not necessary for a functioning information processing system(Arguments 4 and 5), and that if they serve no purpose they would not exist(Argument 2)."
I demonstrated though those 5 arguments that consciousness and emotion must serve a purpose.

Con then goes on to suggest that perhaps our consciousness renders us as mere passengers, but that was already shown to be exceedingly unlikely by my 5 arguments.
" However, one can have consciousness/emotion without the result of a free will. As an analogy, imagine that you are a passenger in a self driving vehicle. Although you are aware of all that is happening around you, and you have specific information for being inside of the car, you are not the one controlling it. In a similar way, it may be true that we have consciousness, but that may not have any CAUSUAL relations to actions that we take." (I think he meant Causal relationships in that last sentence)
If we are just observers, then consciousness/emotional awareness has no purpose related to survival and it would be weeded out. I demonstrated through my 5 arguments that consciousness/emotional awareness is unnecessary for proper survival function and Con agreed with my arguments later in his reply. Because he agreed with arguments that clearly demonstrate that his passenger analogy is unreasonable, I find it especially puzzling that he would suggest that his passenger version of consciousness is reasonable.

I am not actually very impressed with the study Con posted(which I had to find a real copy of because Con's link is just an abstract unless I want to buy the article). They do a terrible job of presenting their findings and give me no information to determine if their results have any statistical significance. They did not do a power analysis, they provided no confidence intervals, and they gave no explanation for how they were determining when it is that we become aware of a choice being made. I can't tell if this study is valid or not because the authors did not give me enough information to possibly determine that.

What I can say is that from what I see they say that certain areas of the brain light up on an fMRI before ones associated with consciousness. Given that the patients were conscious the whole time, they really needed to explain what they meant by this since, presumably, the areas of the brain relating to consciousness are generally active when we are awake. Maybe they meant they get even more active, presumably it was some area that got extra active when making button pressing decisions. The results they did post were in graphic form and show that at best, you can use data from certain parts of the brain to make a slightly better than 50% guess as to what decision a person will make when given only 2 choices. Basically they did not show that the decision is made before we are aware of it, but they might have shown that one choice or another is slightly more likely to be the one we make before we become aware of the decision making process that we are undertaking.

Here is the link I used. If Con can provide me the supplementary date I will look at it, but so far this is not usable evidence.
http://www.rifters.com...

"To add to this point, I want to argue that even adding consciousness/emotional awareness to a system will not alter the behavior of the system. The system will still act as it was programmed to do. Recall the car analogy. The person in the car may have a specific internal experience that no one from the outside of the car will see, however, that specific internal experience does not have any causal relation to the motion of the car."
That claim is not justified. You would need to demonstrate that behavior is not altered after removal of consciousness and emotion to give that claim weight. Sleepwalking people are not conscious and they do some really strange stuff, so it seems like consciousness actually has a major effect on your actions.
"Sleepwalkers arise from the slow wave sleep stage in a state of low consciousness and perform activities that are usually performed during a state of full consciousness. These activities can be as benign as sitting up in bed, walking to a bathroom, and cleaning, or as hazardous as cooking, driving,[3] violent gestures, grabbing at hallucinated objects,[4] or even homicide."
https://en.wikipedia.org...

"As it turns out, I have agreed with the conclusions of the 5 arguments from my opponent. However, these arguments do not necessitate the conclusion that we have a free will. They do argue that we have a consciousness, and that there may be a use for it. I have no issues with conceding that the consciousness may have some use, as it does allow biological systems to have specific internal experiences."
I am sorry, but you have clearly misunderstood my arguments. I stated that consciousness/emotional awareness exists as a premise. Specifically it is part of premise 2 of argument 2. I NEVER argued that consciousness/emotional awareness exists, I assumed it.

Your proposed usage of having internal experiences is not something that qualifies as a purpose in natural selection. A purpose is something that enhances survival. Wasting energy giving you a fun video of the world would get weeded out.

My arguments demonstrate that consciousness/emotional awareness must have some effect on our fitness and that effect can not be as a necessary part of a functioning information processing unit. That does not, however show that it cannot interact with the information processing unit, and in fact that is the only possible utility it could have.

Consciousness/emotional awareness will not make you stronger physically, more virile, faster, or cause any other change to your mechanical abilities. Consciousness/emotional awareness are products of parts of the larger information processing system. I would propose then that consciousness could act as a sort of filter to weed out really stupid decisions, and emotional awareness could act as a modifier of that filter. I have no idea of any mechanism for this function, but I never claimed I could provide mechanisms. Besides, we still don't even have a mechanism for consciousness, so it would be incredibly arrogant of me to claim to have a second level mechanism like one for how consciousness affects the rest of the brain. That explanation of them as a filter would actually fit the study Con posted pretty well if the study is valid(which I can't tell from the data available to me). The decision is made in a preliminary sense then the conscious mind can accept or reject it which would explain the timing differential seen in the study.
Lupricona

Con

Thank you for the next round of arguments.

I did not state that you needed a mechanism for free will. I don't understand where in my argument you inferred that, and I apologize for the misunderstanding.

What I am arguing is that you have 5 conclusions that relate to consciousness and emotions, but they do not logically conclude that we have free will. This is the fallacy of a non-sequitor. If you want to prove free will (and I am not saying you need a mechanism), you need to provide examples of how consciousness plays a causal role in affecting actions.

Pro did provide one argument for consciousness having a causal role in decision-making. He argued that sleepwalking occurs with none or minimal conscious awareness, and the actions made in this state differ from actions that those same people would do during a time of wakefulness.

I have to rebuttals to this argument:

First, sleepwalking is a disorder, which is the reason why people produce different actions. There are many other disorders that also cause people to behave in completely different ways. This is what we would expect if humans are limited to control by aspects of their brain. A person with and without disorders will act in different ways, but we do not need to bring in free will to state why that is, as it all can be explained by brain functions.

Second, animals also have sleep disorders (1). It is possible that animals can also experience sleepwalking. Do you argue that animals also have free will, and that their free will is then limited while they sleep?

Pro argued that consciousness is not necessary for proper survival function, so it may be useful in other ways, like weeding out stupid decisions, and emotions can act as a modifier (I will provide a rebuttal to this later). He argues that consciousness being merely us as passengers is not useful. This may not be the case.

In architecture, there is a concept known as "spandrels." It is the space between two arches. If one wants to build a structure, and use arches, it is necessary to connect them. The spandrel is not useful on its own, but it exists because of the necessary outcome of using arches.

In biology, there is a similar concept (2). A spandrel is a phenotypic characteristic of a byproduct of the evolution of some other characteristic. Given this understanding, it is possible that this is what consciousness is- something similar to an evolutionary spandrel. A subjective personal experience for each individual organism may not be useful for survival function, but may be necessary as the byproduct of other features. Perhaps one cannot have a living, functioning organism without it having a consciousness that is just a passenger.

I apologize for referencing only an abstract to the study. I had thought this experiment was more well-known, but I should have been more exhaustive of my description and sourcing. Thank you, pro, for providing a link to the full article.

In regards to the study, you are correct in pointing out that the predictions for the decision will be slightly better than chance, and that our subconscious brain may only push for one option over the other. The main point, though, is that all decision making starts at the subconscious level. This means that consciousness has less of a role, and may only be deduced to a filter, as pro argued. Still, even if consciousness is a filter, pro has proven that free will exists. To rebut this claim, I refer to another study, testing this theory, done in 2013. This time, I will provide a link for the entire article: (3)

Abstract: Inhibition of prepotent action is an important aspect of self-control, particularly in social contexts. Action inhibition and its neural bases have been extensively studied. However, the neural precursors of free decisions to inhibit have hardly been studied. We asked participants to freely choose to either make a rapid key press in response to a visual cue, or to transiently inhibit action, and briefly delay responding. The task required a behavioural response on each trial, so trials involving inhibition could be distinguished from those without inhibition as those showing slower reaction times. We used this criterion to classify free-choice trials as either rapid or inhibited/delayed. For 13 participants, we measured the mean amplitude of the ERP activity at electrode Cz in three subsequent 50 ms time windows prior to the onset of the signal that either instructed to respond or inhibit, or gave participants a free choice. In two of these 50 ms time windows (W22;150 to W22;100, and W22;100 to W22;50 ms relative to action onset), the amplitude of prestimulus ERP differed between trials where participants "freely" chose whether to inhibit or to respond rapidly. Larger prestimulus ERP amplitudes were associated with trials in which participants decided to act rapidly as compared to trials in which they decided to delay their responses. Last-moment decisions to inhibit or delay may depend on unconscious preparatory neural activity.

With the two studies combined, we can understand that not only is decision-making started by the subconscious, it seems as though that the concsiousness does not have any ability to manipulate the decision.

Also, pro argued that a consciousness that can make free choices is benefical because it could weed out the bad decisions. In contrast, I would argue that a free will, if it did exist, would be detriemental to a living organism. If an organism had very low intelligence, then its consciousness would inevitably make much more detrimental actions than would an organism that only has the ability to act in such a way that it enhances survival and reproduction. A free will could go against survival and reproduction, and would thus could destroy a species. Luckily, humans do not have a free will.

To summarize my point:

Consciousness may be an evolutionary spandrel that exists because it may be what a complex, living organism requires. All animals have consciousness, and it may become more complex over an evolutionary period, but only by gradation. We should not think that, just because we are one of the most complex organisms, that means we have free will in choosing our actions. Realistically, it is good that humans don't have a free will, as that could inhibit the progress of evolution.

I look forward to your rebuttals. Cheers!

(1) http://www.sleepandhealth.com...
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org...(biology)
(3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
Debate Round No. 3
V5RED

Pro

First, It seems that Con has yet to even comment on the emotional awareness aspect of my argument. That said, it seemed rather damning for any argument against free will. I showed that the brain does not require the emotion of pain in order to process the damage that has occurred. Thus there is no reason we should feel the pain emotion unless it is driving behavior. It gives us a personal incentive to avoid pain beyond the unconscious aspects that are detecting the damage. That this shows that there is a free will can be shown in the case of S&M. Some people get off on pain, but we would expect if there was no choice involved, these people could not resist the unconscious urge to avoid bodily harm, but they can override that if they want the pain badly enough.

Second, I went through the trouble of demonstrating that a body can function without emotion and consciousness specifically to deal with Con's "spandrel" argument. I am well aware of the fact that some traits can be intrinsically linked to others wither by chromosome linkage or just by virtue of being necessary parts of another system, but my arguments 3, 4, and 5 show that this is not the case for consciousness and emotion. Since he has agreed with my arguments which make his "spandrel" argument impossible, it seems that he should have taken another look at my arguments for a flaw in them, not just accepted them then made an argument that is made impossible by them.

I will go even further and say that calling consciousness a spandrel is irrational and he is far too dismissive of my pointing out that behavior is significantly different when we are conscious as opposed to unconscious. Sleepwalking is exceptionally useful to the question of free will because it is a rare time where people are making decisions without any consciousness and while having a fully functional brain.
"First, sleepwalking is a disorder, which is the reason why people produce different actions. There are many other disorders that also cause people to behave in completely different ways. This is what we would expect if humans are limited to control by aspects of their brain. A person with and without disorders will act in different ways, but we do not need to bring in free will to state why that is, as it all can be explained by brain functions."
The disorder is that your consciousness is not activated while the rest of your brain is activated, and the consequences of this are drastic. Consciousness clearly has an impact on decision making because if it is out of the equation, you make worse decisions. There absolutely is a need to bring in free will because it is only when the options are presented to a mind that can be self aware that the mind selects the best actions. If no free will were involved, then it would make no sense that we need to be conscious to make better decisions.

"Second, animals also have sleep disorders (1). It is possible that animals can also experience sleepwalking. Do you argue that animals also have free will, and that their free will is then limited while they sleep?" Yes.

" Perhaps one cannot have a living, functioning organism without it having a consciousness that is just a passenger." Except that we can demonstrate that organisms can function without consciousness.

As to Con's demand for a causal relationship, I have shown that if you remove consciousness but leave the rest of the brain active, then you get drastically different results than if the conscious portion of the brain is active. This shows that consciousness has a causal impact on our behavior.

Con rejects the idea that free will is the ability to filter out choices that we do not like, but his argument for this makes no sense to me.
"I would argue that a free will, if it did exist, would be detriemental to a living organism. If an organism had very low intelligence, then its consciousness would inevitably make much more detrimental actions than would an organism that only has the ability to act in such a way that it enhances survival and reproduction. A free will could go against survival and reproduction, and would thus could destroy a species. Luckily, humans do not have a free will."
He thinks that this would lead to stupid decisions, but we can see that without consciousness we will commit profoundly stupid actions. Sleepwalkers just do whatever their unconscious mind decides and often end up hurting themselves or others. Additionally, the idea of it as a filter seems to comport with how we think. Thoughts occur to you and you cannot choose to have them, but once they occur to you you either accept or reject them. This is how we most likely are making choices, we are selecting for or against the ideas that our subconscious mind offers to our conscious mind. This again fits the filter I had already proposed. I would say it is lucky that we do have a free will so we can plan for the future and make better decisions.

As to the new study that Con posted, Con should have at least tried to explain it. This is possibly the most confusing study I have ever seen and all Con did was copy and paste the abstract. I have looked around online and have yet to find anyone who understands what was being measured in this study. Basically the entire thing is Greek to me except for the actual procedure the participants went through. I have no idea what any of the measurements mean and if they are in any way related to the conclusion, and it is not my responsibility to learn all of these complicated things, it is Con's responsibility to present evidence in a way in which it is reasonable to expect someone to be able to assess it. I would encourage voters to ignore the study since it was not explained and I will have no opportunity to respond if Con decides to actually translate it to something that a non expert in the field can understand.

I will do my best, however to address the study in as rudimentary a fashion as I can. They only look at an action that is completely trivial to the participants, so even if I accepted their interpretation of the data, all it would show us is that if we don't care about an action it might not be freely chosen. Really though, all they might have have shown is that certain brain regions correlate with decision making, but they did not demonstrate that this means that consciousness was not involved.

I looked up how we measure awareness/consciousness and it appears that the only reliable test we have is literally asking people if they are aware of things.
https://en.wikipedia.org...

I do have some problems with the validity of this study. It had a very small number of participants, they make no mention of blinding or allocation concealment, and once again there is no power analysis. Thus I can't know if their results were statistically valid. Blinding would be especially important. If the person taking the measurements is aware of whether the participants are in the "free" or "instructed" groups, he might display bias when reading the scans. A power analysis tells you how many people the study needed to have to get statistically significant data and at what level of difference between the groups you could call the date significant. Thus I can neither tell if the data is unbiased nor if it is even statistically significant. I suspect it is not given that their cohort was only 13 people.

All I can get from this is a demonstration of certain, unnamed, regions of the brain showing activity with certain actions. Additionally, their data is somewhat corrupted because in the free will branch, they told the participants to try to keep their responses balanced which could have caused them to subconsciously form a plan before the test even started thus invalidating the results.

Thus the first study was readable, but does not counter the idea of a filter free will (apparently called a "free won't", I did not know that this was the current way people see free will, but it is cool to me that the possible method of free will that I guessed at actually comports with the current most likely method of free will), and the second study is too convoluted for Con to have reasonably expected me to be able to interpret it and he should have given some explanation, not just posted it as if it proves a point.

In summary:
Consciousness and emotion have a purpose
If either is removed, the choices made by people change, so the purpose must be to influence actions.
Consciousness being the part of you that is actually aware of itself would seem to comport with a free will, but this is not definitively proven because we lack the ability to even give a mechanism for consciousness let alone free will. That said, it is exceedingly likely that it is a free will since we know that the mechanistic brain can function without consciousness and when you add in the ability to be aware of the available choices, you tend to make better ones. This is a major point, so I will emphasize it. You make your best choices when and only when you are aware of the options available to you. IF our choices were determined, then awareness should not matter, they should just happen. Since awareness does matter, it is not rational to call behaviors determined.
Lupricona

Con

Thank you, Pro, for posting your conclusion and final arguments.

Pro argued that I seemed rather dismissive of the emotional aspect of his arguments.
Pro did argue that emotions can alter the behavior of an organism, and I conceded these points. I also argued, however, that this argument does not lead to the conclusion of a free will, instead, it supports a theory where all decision-making is caused by elements beyond our control.

Pro provided another argument as to how emotions can alter behavior, and gave the example of S&M. Again, it is true, as I've already conceded, that emotions will alter actions, but the consciousness does not have any causal role in choosing actions. For people who enjoy S&M, is it because they made that conscious decision at some point in their lives to have an uncontrollable desire? I daresay that anyone would agree to this. And one can only expand this line of though, and think of all the desires that they currently have. Which of them did they made the conscious decision to enjoy? Or rather, is it that, if we thought long enough, we would understand that we have a genetic or environmental cause for all of the desires that we possess?

Pro argued that my argument for consciousness as an evolutionary spandrel was irrational because it was inconsistent with his conclusions that I conceded to.

Given these three conclusions:

-There are things that exist that process information without consciousness/emotional awareness.

-Conscious awareness is not required for information processing.

-Human brains to not require the emotion of pain to function.

To say that it is inconsistent to hold these three conclusions, while also arguing that the consciousness of a living organism (distinct from a non-living information processing machine), can be the useful and necessary result of existing functions, is unjustified. No contradiction exists, and Pro failed to demonstrate how. Again, the main issues with Pro's arguments, is that while all of them are conceded as being sound, they do not justify the conclusion that we have free will. All of his arguments can be true, while he still fails to prove that free will exists.

Pro brings up sleepwalking again, and argues that limited consciousness is the result of alternate behavior. However, this was only asserted, and never demonstrated. During the sleepwalking state, there is less brain activity overall. There may be other factors that determine why the sleepwalking state leads to different actions. We would need to look at a study to determine the casual factor.
Pro also argued that, in relevance to the sleepwalking issue, that animals do have a free will. While this does make his theory consistent, and deflect the issue of consciousness being an evolutionary gradation, it does cause some problems overall.

Animals, like humans, have the ability to choose among a variety of options, depending on the environment. So, while decisions may be schocastic, the main question is whether the decision making comes from subconscious brain activity, or from the ability to make free, conscious decisions. Pro argued that he provided arguments and examples where the removal of consciousness affects the outcome of situations. However, those situations also minimize other brain activity, so it is impossible to prove that it was in fact consciousness that caused the change.

In the first study I provided, Pro seems to have conceded that the decision-making process originates in the subconscious brain, so that if there does exist a free will, it may only be able to determine between options already provided by the subconscious (a "free don't.) I also conceded that if all we have is a "free don't", then this is still enough to prove his conclusion. In response to this, I provided a study that attempted to demonstrate that we don't even have a free don't. Pro argued that he did not understand the study, that I should have explained it better, and therefore it would not be fair for me to do this in this round as he would not be able to respond. So, I will take what he did concede from this study, and try to argue my point again.

Pro said, "all it would show us is that if we don't care about an action it might not be freely chosen."

He went on to give valid criticisms of the study, but they will not be necessary for my point.

At least in some situations that we have studied, participants' subconscious brain initiated a veto response even before the participants' consciousness noticed that decision. So, this is not the all-powerful evidence to show that there is no free will at all, but it is a step in the direction to show that the consciousness may not have any causal role in decision making, and may only be a sort of reader of the data.

Pro argued against my proposal that a free will would prove detrimental to evolution. He again uses the example of sleepwalking to prove that consciousness has causal effects, while still omitting that sleepwalking is a disorder, where brain activity is running counter to its effective state. There is minial brain activity as well, thus showing that we cannot reasonably determine, at least from this example, that consciousness has a causal role in decision making.
To further stress my point that free will would be detreminetal to evolution, consider two organisms:
One organism has no free will, and will always make subconscious decisions towards survival and procreation.
The other organism has free will, and it may make decisions towards survival and procreation, or it may choose against survival and procreation.
Which of these two organisms has a higher success rate for survival and procreation?

In pro's summary, he argued that consciousness and emotion both have a purpose. We both agree that emotion has a causal purpose to action, but that does not affect free will. What we disagree on is the consciousness' causal role in determining actions. He argues that a "passenger consciousness" would not be useful, even as an evolutionary spandrel.

For my summary, I argue that I at least attempted to give examples in the current scientific field against free will. My opponent gave some examples of consciousness affecting free will, but these were merely thought experiments, and I showed how there could be other explanations. It could be possible that free will exists, but I believe the arguments I have presented make for a more reasonable explanation of reality than my opponent has offered. If you disagree with that statement, vote Pro!

And thanks again to Pro for a wonderful and challenging debate, and thank you for your masterful ability to notice the weaknesses in the studies I offered. The peer-reviewed scientific community could use your intelligence!
Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Furyan5 1 year ago
Furyan5
Lmfao. Yes you can put your hand on a hot plate. But would you really? Give me one logical reason anyone in their right mind would put their hand on a hot plate. I'm not saying it can't be done. If you want to, you can. But will is defined by what you want to do. Nobody wants to put their hand on a hot plate. Will is determined by logic. If will was independent of logic, you could choose to believe that free will is an illusion. Can you?
Posted by canis 1 year ago
canis
I could put my hand on a burning hot plate, (will). I would not realy want to, (will). What choise i make. And how it can happen can be "explained". But how and why it "must happen" on a celluar or even an atomar level is a mystery.
Posted by Furyan5 1 year ago
Furyan5
What is will based on? It's based on what will give us the most pleasure or cause us the least amount of pain. How do we determine this? Past experiences. If in our experience A gives us more pleasure or causes us less pain than B, we will always choose A. So is this really choice? No. It's determinism.
Posted by V5RED 1 year ago
V5RED
Your argument has an error. You have asserted that if there is a cause then the choice was not free. If a choice is made freely, then part of the cause was the will. Your psychological background combines with your context to create an array of possible choices with probabilities of being chosen determined by that background, but it is then down to the will to actually make the selection. As seen with sleepwalkers, consciousness changes the choices one would make, so it would seem reasonable that being able to sift through your options is the usefulness of consciousness which implies that you do in fact have a choice or a will. A mechanism for this would seem like magic, but so would a mechanism for self aware atoms, but here we are. I would suggest that an understanding of consciousness and how it is possible could lead to an understanding of a will.
Posted by Furyan5 1 year ago
Furyan5
I guess what this boils down to is your definition of free will. In my opinion, every action, choice and thought is predetermined by past experiences and yes, I can prove it. There is no choice without a cause. If the choice is caused, it is not made freely. Now I can spend a lot of time trying to explain how every choice is determined, or you can offer one choice you believe is uncaused. So here's your chance to prove free will exists. Name one choice without a cause.
Posted by canis 1 year ago
canis
You could as well say. "without any will at all. Is the only way to be conscious. And let emotions be what they are". (whatever conscious Means. In some languages it just means "being witness to".
Posted by V5RED 1 year ago
V5RED
Furyan, your argument against free will rests on an assumption that free will is impossible. You assert that nothing can be chosen therefore free will does not exist, but you would need to back that assertion up. You posted this circular argument on my other copy of my debate and now have just added fluff around it, but the fluff does not support your conclusion since it is possible to be both free and influenced. Your likely choices may be slanted to favor certain options, but that does not mean there is no free will, but without free will consciousness and emotion make no sense.
Posted by Furyan5 1 year ago
Furyan5
I don't see the point. Emotions are chemical reactions within our bodies. If they are responsible for the actions we take, one could hardly call that free will. We are programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Every action we take is calculated by what will give us the most pleasure or cause us the least pain. Consciousness is what allows us to determine this action. Choice is but a hypothetical construct of the mind which allows us to view possible outcomes but the obvious decision is based on knowledge gained from past experiences.
If the left path is easy but longer than the right path we would pick a path based on how urgently we need to reach our destination. If time is not an issue, our past experiences will tell us if we find an easy path more pleasurable, or a more challenging path more pleasurable.
There are many factors that come into play when a course of action is decided, but the conclusion is inevitable. When you are put in the same situation, you will always follow the same course of action, unless, something or someone alters your opinion. Ei, you do not change. Something changes you. Consciousness and emotions are part of the predetermination factors. Not agents of free will.
Posted by V5RED 1 year ago
V5RED
Congratulations to my opponent, you are the toughest debater I have faced on this site thus far. I am impressed with your skills.
Posted by V5RED 1 year ago
V5RED
Congratulations to my opponent, you are the toughest debater I have faced on this site thus far. I am impressed with your skills.
No votes have been placed for this debate.