The Instigator
Biochemistry92
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Gandalf_123
Con (against)
Winning
1 Points

On the Topic of Free-will, Surely in a scientific world must not exist!

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after 1 vote the winner is...
Gandalf_123
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/22/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 593 times Debate No: 38015
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (1)

 

Biochemistry92

Pro

I would like to start off by saying that this is truly the greatest question ever known to all subject matter (Science, Philosophy, Religion, Mathematics, Robotics, Politics, and of course You and Me). To begin on what level do we as individuals justify the existence of free will. Is because of conscious perceptions we have in the day to day choices and decisions we make, or is it because of the creativity of mankind that we believe we are the forgers of our own destiny's?

My argument thus begins with my conclusion off of the book the Astonishing Hypothesis by Francis Crick. If neurological synapses firing in our brains predate (in the milliseconds leading towards) our cognitive awareness that then leads to actions taken in the real world. It then follows like a stream to a river that man is unaware of his/her own true intentions and is therefore subjected to a will that is ubiquitous to conscious decision making.
Gandalf_123

Con

The definition of free will is according to Wikipedia "the ability of agents to make choices unconstrained by certain factors"[1]. Viewing the human mind as a machine can make one think about it as a deterministic pile of switches or levers, like the cranks of an engine, with no leeway for multiple choices. But I believe that view is wrong and I am going to show that there is a way to observe free will in the human mind and at the same time consider it to be a machine of sorts.

For the purpose of the argument let us consider a situation where a person is attacked by a thief. In this constructed situation let us have the item targeted by the thief be relatively unimportant, we have a victim that is skilled in combat and that will subdue the attacker and call the police and we also have all this happening in a park with a lot of small children. Waiting for the police there is an opportunity to engage in conversation with the subdued perpetrator. One can then examine how that conversation might play itself out and how free will can be observed in such a conversation.

The external constraint of having children around that I have mentioned would make many people that would find themselves in such a hypothetical situation feel like they should converse with the thief in a specific way. The conversation might play out in a way that the person will try to make the thief feel ashamed of the bad thing that he has done. In contrast the same person might ignore the presence of children and start to gloat in his fighting prowess and try to strike fear in the heart of the thief while at the same time making the already startled children in the park feel even worse. Therefore there is an external constraint on the person and at the same time no huge penalty for not acknowledging that constraint and behaving like it was not there in the first place, that is the children or their parents are not going to bother someone that has just subdued a thief. Therefore we have an agent as the person in our hypothetical situation and we also have a factor that might influence that person's behavior. But the way that person will choose to act is generated entirely in the mind of that person in a way that corresponds to the definition of free will.

One can argue that all this choosing of one way to behave in the real world among many is not a manifestation of free will. That the machine of the human mind knows the possibilities in a situation from past experience and generated them and then bumps the ones that seem better on top based on pro and con arguments that are subconscious to the mind and then finally gives the conscious mind the idea that it should be trying to shame the thief regarding his actions because there are children around or the idea that it should strike fire even though that would startle the children even more. But that is not determinism as opposed to free will simply because the actions of the agent and the constraints of that actions are defined outside of that agent. We need not worry with the internal structure of the agent that is capable of understanding new situations and reacting to them, even when there are some scientific views of the internal structure of the human mind that make the analyzing of it's behavior in many ways to seem deterministic.

This is all very similar to physics experiments where sometimes a new experiment comes and contradicts the existing knowledge about the laws of physics. In that case you do not fix the experiment to conform to the laws of physics, but you do change the definition of the laws of physics to conform to the experiment. Likewise for the human mind viewed as a physical machine in a scientific context. There is no need to throw away the concept of free will when the mind acts in a way that may appear to be in many ways deterministic. You just go ahead and apply the existing definition of free will to the person that possesses the mind in question and you find out that all the basic requirements are satisfied.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Biochemistry92

Pro

While i agree with the definition of free will, I do believe you have misinterpreted the definition. Either way my argument still stands, For starters certain factors is not clearly defined on wikipedia, so im going to pull from stanford's plato encylopedia. "free will is the ability to select a course of action as a means of fulfilling some desire." (I feel this definition to be vastly more substantial as "Unconstrained by certain factors" is way to similar to the vagueness of metaphysics). Now for the sake of why i choose this definition over yours (and surely you can agree) picking and choosing which external factors or comparable with free-will is a fallacy, any action/brainwave/value/environmental stress or even reaction that forces the individual to react in a predictable way that is outside of their control. This is purely philosophical conjecture, not holding up modern science's view.
To use your example, the person who defeated the thief in combat (being a loose term for what just happened in your example) the thief was left with two options. Then in your own words you manage to bring him/her down to one choice, With the unconscious mind deliberating behind closed doors (a metaphor I am using for being outside of personal choice or free will whichever you wish to call) and then acting on said(or better yet non-spoken) decision. Of course, this manifests itself in split seconds in response to the rapid flow of events in the environment (the rest of the scenario). As opposed to the last half of your third paragraph, if an external factor (the kids and the parents) drives the individual to cross out possibilities from the list of things to do, that is also a compromising factor of free-will. As the subject is affected by environmental stimuli rather than subjective choice.
Modern Science currently takes this argument a multitude of steps further starting with neurological synapses that fire off moments before a action takes place. So while you may think your creating every word in your sentence, your unconscious mind works milliseconds before you in order to further construct your wording, or any other endeavor that humans may do.
To cite an example of millisecond behaviors that run our lives, think of catching a baseball/football/ or any other physical activity. Since the days of childhood you have done this, after you have acquired the basic technique your body remembers the muscle movements and (to quote David Eagleman an amazing Neurologist) rapidly programs your body to do these events so your conscious mind may perform the task.
To end this round I would like to say that your physics example fail in light of your own definition of free-will as it is not an agent that is allowed to make a decision or choice.
Gandalf_123

Con

I have read your first paragraph and I am at a loss to what you wanted to say except modify a little the wikipedia definition of free will. On top of that selecting a course of action is similar to having an agent accomplishing a task and accomplishing desires generated by the human mind is similar to having a recognition in the mind of the external constraints from that same wikipedia definition.

Regarding your second and third paragraph, there is evidently determinism in the human mind with regards to what course of action it will choose for the individual in a certain situation. But between startling the children by striking fear in the mind of the thief or not, the actions of the person subduing the thief are not predictable by factors external to the inner workings of his or her mind. So we are still very well in our rights to define the existence of free will in the external actions of that person. No inner simulation of the outside world that tries to generate decisions for a person is 100 percent predictable no matter the external constraints. Take for example a policeman pointing a gun to someone and saying out loud 'freeze'. Is everybody going to freeze or are there cases where some people would just bolt as fast as they can? Again free will defined in an external context with a far greater external constraint.

The physics example is not a way to tell more about the definition of free will. It is instead a perfectly good justification of all this fudging of the definition of what is free will. No need to worry that there is a fundamentally deterministic inner working of the mind when free will is defined in terms of external actions. Take the physics law of gravity. The inner workings of the law where completely changed with the advent of Einstein's theories of special and general relativity. All that started with trouble with the old way of defining the law of gravity. Experiments were made and things didn't add up anymore. And they kept not adding up until they decided that the world is not wrong about what it tells us. Only the stated definition of the law is wrong. Change the definition and we have Einstein's gravity 2.0. Likewise a completely deterministic human mind can be defined as externally behaving in a way that resembles the presence of free will, simply because not all the intermediate steps to the making of the decision are apparent. So we have free will on the outside with a deterministic inner mechanism. Just as Einstein's gravity is completely redefined and we still have the same gravity acting on ourselves and our universe.
Debate Round No. 2
Biochemistry92

Pro

Biochemistry92 forfeited this round.
Gandalf_123

Con

We have three arguments, one more to go.
Debate Round No. 3
Biochemistry92

Pro

Biochemistry92 forfeited this round.
Gandalf_123

Con

I had arguments with no votes. So please people vote.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Chrysippus 3 years ago
Chrysippus
Pro argued the now-standard "your subconscious makes decisions before you realize you made them" line; which is backed by IMO somewhat dubious science. But his arguments were stronger than Con's, who ended up falling back on:

"Likewise a completely deterministic human mind can be defined as externally behaving in a way that resembles the presence of free will, simply because not all the intermediate steps to the making of the decision are apparent. So we have free will on the outside with a deterministic inner mechanism. "

Which is to say, not freewill at all; and tantamount to a concession of the debate.

Pro then promptly forfeits two rounds with no explanation, which concedes the debate and loses that easy win.

What is the voter to do when both sides concede?

Conduct to Con, for sticking it out. No-one gets arguments. Sources and spelling were tied anyway.
Posted by Biochemistry92 3 years ago
Biochemistry92
Sure does seem it nowadays, unfortunate as it might be. Furthermore it would appear to me that this argument is either gonna take a while to get going (why i have allowed 4 round in it) or simply never going to get off of the ground because of people like ourselves.
Posted by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
No problem. I've made the same mistakes. I agree with you on this topic, so I wasn't going to take it up. Arguments for free will are very flawed.
Posted by Biochemistry92 3 years ago
Biochemistry92
Awww most certainly, i would like to personally thank you. Know that my analytical chem class has a exam in the morning so my mind is different places and so the slight oversight turns into a mile passed stupid on my part. Thanks and wont you care to take up this challenge?
Posted by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
That's better, but you would be Pro.
Posted by Biochemistry92 3 years ago
Biochemistry92
thank you, sorry i am new at this website and did not think to much onto the topic as i assumed people loved the free-will topic (which apparently is somewhat true) and that the title wouldn't matter much after that point. though i do fear that no one is wanting to go against my first round as it would appear that the whole argument has been laid barren.
Posted by Magic8000 3 years ago
Magic8000
Looking forward to this debate if someone accepts. However, people like it if you make the debate title in the form of a resolution. The one that you did isn't really clear. For example, "Free will doesn't exist" or "Free will is an illusion". If it wasn't for your first round, no one would know what you're arguing for.
Posted by Biochemistry92 3 years ago
Biochemistry92
Surely a wise comment as it is probably the most contentious thing I have encountered through my philosophical readings. If you have a interest in the subject matter than look up wikipedia's article as it is a nice place to start your research.
Posted by Corneliuss 3 years ago
Corneliuss
I love the subject of free will even though I haven't researched it. But I don't think that is very clear.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Chrysippus 3 years ago
Chrysippus
Biochemistry92Gandalf_123Tied
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comment.