The Instigator
QueenDaisy
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
DNehlsen
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

THB: free will does not exist

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/10/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 10 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 614 times Debate No: 103892
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (0)

 

QueenDaisy

Pro

The motion is: "THB: free will does not exist". I will support this motion.

Definitions:

"THB": abbreviation for "this house believes" i.e. the claim being discussed.

"Free will": the ability to make decisions the result of which was not wholly determined by external factors.

Format:

R1: Acceptance only.

R2 & R3: Initial arguments and rebuttal.

R4: Summation. No new arguments may be offered, and voters should ignore new arguments offered in R4. New rebuttal may be offered.

Those thinking of accepting the debate should note the 4,000 character limit and the 24 hour time to reply- this is so voters don't get discouraged by the length of the argument, and to ensure the debate runs smoothly.

I wish my opponent the best of luck, and look forward to an interesting and fruitful discussion.
Debate Round No. 1
QueenDaisy

Pro

For brevity, I will label my premises, reasoning, and conclusions as [P] and [R] followed by a number respectively. This allows me to avoid repeating myself.

Humans are physical entities only- no immaterial soul can be demonstrated to reside within us. [P1]

Every physical aspect of an individual is the result of three things- genetics, epigenetics*, and environment. [P2]

We do not control our genetics or epigenetics, and we may only be said to control our environment if free will can be convincingly demonstrated to exist- if we do not have free will, we do not control our environment. [P3].

We do not control the environment in which we are born [P4].

[P1] implies that any action which can reasonably be said to be made by an individual is a result of physical processes within that person- within their brain and the rest of their body. If someone does something as a result of something that was not within their body- for instance, they fall over because they were pushed- then they are being acted upon, rather than doing the acting. [R1].

[P2], [P3], [P4], and [R1] imply that we do not have free will at the moment of our birth- the result of any decision we appear to make is the result of physical processes within our body, and these are themselves the result of our genetics, epigenetics, and the environment in which we were born- none of which we had control over. Hence, we do not have control over the result of any decisions we appear to have made at birth, as these results were predetermined by factors outside of our control. [R2].

[R2] and [P3] imply that we do not have control of any of the things which affect our physical aspects, as we do not control our genetics or epigenetics, do not control our environment at birth, hence do not have free will at birth, and would require free will to be able to gain the ability to control our environment, which we do not have at birth and so cannot gain control over our environment. [R3].

[R1] and [R3] imply we do not have free will- starting at birth and continuing afterwards, our physical state is determined entirely by factors outside of our control, and the result of any decisions we make is the result of our physical state, and so the result of those factors outside of our control. [R4].

[R4] is directly contradictory the definition presented in round 1- the results of our decisions are wholly determined by factors outside of our control.

Hence, free will does not exist.

Asterisks:
*(an explanation of this may be found under source 1. Epigenetics is essentially just where the environment affects genetics).

Sources:
1: https://www.youtube.com...
DNehlsen

Con

My opponent earlier presented us with the definition of free will. Allow me to repeat: "the ability to make decisions the result of which was not wholly determined by external factors."

I am of the opinion that the answer of free will is both a psychological one, (1) and a religious one. Because Psychology refers to the study of our behaviors, this is imperitive to understanding how we make decisions. Because Religion refers to supernatural origins and guidance, it would effect our perspective on free will in inexplicable ways were said religion true. Therefore, before we understand both concepts, I believe we can make no conclusive statement on the matter of free will.

In regard to Psychology, we don't really know how we make our decisions yet, but we have some ideas. To get a grasp of what Psychology teaches, let's look at some Learning Paradigms.
  • Behaviorism (2) & Constructivism (3)
    • This theory falls in line with my opponent's POW.
    • It states that all of our decisions are simply passive responses to our enviorment
    • This theory states that our behavior is determined by us building off of previous experience.
  • Cognitivism (4)
    • Cognitivism was built from Behaviorism.
      • It takes the concepts of Behaviorism, but says that the learner cannot be passive, but must be an active participant to unlock his potential as a learner.
    • This theory accounts for something Behaviorism doesn't: The decision to try or not to try.
  • Humanism (5)
    • Humanism focuses on human freedom and personal potential.
    • This theory accounts for something Behaviorism doesn't: The emotions of an individual, and the decision of how much value and attention one gives to said emotions.
After looking at a couple of the most prominent theories, we can see that some agree with my opponent, but some do not. The theories that do not agree raise some very interesting points which should not be ignored.

Psychology is inconclusive.

Religion varies a lot, but I'd like to focus on two categories of religion: Abrahamic, and Vedic.
  • Abrahamic Religions
    • Abrahamic religions are those which stem to the character of Abraham, historical or fictional. These religions, most noteably, are Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.
    • Each Abrahamic religion is monotheistic, who believes in the God revealed in their holy text.
    • Each religion teaches that they were created by God to have dominion over the world, and to exercise their personal free will over it to live as they please.
  • Vedic Religions
    • Vedic Religions have many variations, but let's focus of Buddhism and Hindusim.
    • Both teach that our personal choices contribute to the universe by means of 'good' and 'bad' karma.
    • The end goal is to be good enough that you can move on past reincarnation.
    • For this religion to make any sense, there must be Free Will
Religions, again, vary. But the vast majority of them require Free Will. The supernatural is near impossible to disprove or prove conclusively. Therefore, not only can we not conclude whether or not religion is true, but we can't necessarily conclude which is the correct religion assuming one is correct! (At least in the length of this debate.) We just don't know.

Religion is inconclusive.

Neither religion nor psychology are conclusive on the matter of free will. The only way one can assume to know the true nature of free will is to presuppose his own worldview. (Athieism, Religion, Evolution etc.) The presupposition of a worldview is unscientific. Therefore, to say that Free Will does not exist is simply an unscientific claim.

I will get into rebuttals in the following round.


(1) - Psychology: "the science of mind and behavior..."
https://www.merriam-webster.com...

(2) - https://www.learning-theories.com...

(3) - https://www.learning-theories.com...

(4) - https://www.learning-theories.com...

(5) - https://www.learning-theories.com...

Debate Round No. 2
QueenDaisy

Pro

Con's comments on psychology do not seem directly relevant to my argument. Which of my premises is contradicted by which of the types of psychology Con introduced, and how? This certainly wasn't made clear to me, and I'd imagine it is not clear to voters, either.

Their comments on religion point out that many major world religions assert the existence of free will, but that's all these are- assertions. The arguments presented here should be convincing to people of any (or no) religious beliefs, so unless they can demonstrate that any individual religion is factually accurate, then religion should be considered irrelevant to this discussion, just as it would be to a discussion on Steady State Theory Vs the Big Bang Theory [not particularly relevant to this debatem but interesting nonetheless. See source 2 for more] without such a factual demonstration.

Con also seems to be vaguely attempting to reverse the burden of proof [see source 3]- the default position is always the negative position. That is to say, when discussing free will, we must assume it does not exist until someone convincingly demonstrates that it does, just as if we were discussing unicorns, protons, or anything else, the assumption is that it does not exist until we can demonstrate that it does.

So, Con's burden is this- convincingly demonstrate that free will does exist. It is not enough to point out that psychology and religion do not enjoy a consensus on the matter, as if the conversation ends in ambivalent doubt, the result is the negative- that free will does not exist.

Even with a burden of proof reversal assumed to be acceptable for some reason, I feel my case has been thorough and not yet refuted, while Con's has been vague and tangential. My case for round 3 rests.

Sources:
2: https://www.youtube.com...
3: https://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy)
DNehlsen

Con

The first thing I would like to address is Burden of Proof. The Burden of Proof here is not strictly mine. The default is not to believe that everything is false, as my opponent has alleged. The Burden of Proof lies on the individual making the claim. In this case, my opponent has made the claim "THB: free will does not exist." With the motion "Free Will does not exist" I need only show that we cannot know for sure that free will does not exist. Regardless, BoP is nearly always on the one who is challenging the status quo, which in this case is my opponent, Pro. (6; 7)

Rebuttals

P[1] My opponent makes the claim that no immaterial soul can be demonstrated to reside within us. This is purely speculative. We have no reason to assume there is no soul inside of us, at least that my opponent has shown. It is a possibility, and we cannot simply rule it out because we're told to.

P[2] What is important to note here is that my opponent qualified his statement. Everything physical. Emotions, thought process, etc. are not physical properties, but mental ones.

P[3; 4] These items imply that simply because our births were, debatably, formed by chance, we have no free will for the rest of our lives. While we ourselves had no personal decision in our birth place, parents, family etc., we still get to make choices today.

My opponent has stated that we can't control our genetics, and the enviorment we're born in. Unfortunately, Free Will ecompasses so much more than this. We still make choices of how we eat, diet and exercise which alter our bodies. We still make choices of the friends we chose to hang out with and the people we chose to let influence use. We still get to decide if we want to keep our jobs or quit tomorrow morning.

If all of this is true, we have the ability to make decisions which are not wholly determined by external factors. Our internal emotions, genetic make-up, and choices are our own. Enviorment may shape people, but it does not define or control people.

Counter-Rebuttals
Paragraph 1 - The psychology comments bring up how we learn based on our emotions and personal decisions. If we each have emotions and are capable of making personal decisions we thus have free will.

Paragaph 2 - My intention is not to debate the validity of religion. I am simply pointing out, based upon the religions I listed, over 75% of the world believes in free will. (8; 9) One may say this is a bandwagon fallacy, but it is relevant to the BoP. If this is the status quo, my opponent must be able to show how all these people are wrong. To say 75-90% of the world is wrong on a given issue is an inexplicably bold claim.

Paragraph 4 - My point is that the two fields which should understand Free Will better than any either conflict amongst themselves or conflict with your point of view. If you are going to say that the two fields which should understand this are simply wrong, that is a bold claim you are making.

Ending Note
The claim of my opponent is that Free Will does not exist. I feel as though he is mistaking this with omnipotent will. There are certain things beyond the power of our will, such as birth and enviorment, sure. But this does not change the fact that any individual has the choice to do what they like when they like to.

Richard Dawkins famously quotes: "DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music" (10; 11)
This statement is only true if you presuppose atheism and evolution together. Presuppositions are unscientific by definition. Therefore, to say Free Will does not exist is unscientific.

(6) - http://www.writingarguments.com...
(7) - https://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy)#cite_note-1
(8) - http://www.pewforum.org...
(9) - https://en.wikipedia.org...
(10) - https://www.goodreads.com...
(11) - https://www.goodreads.com...
Debate Round No. 3
QueenDaisy

Pro

The only way to dismiss the claim "free will does not exist" is to convincingly argue the claim "free will does exist". If it were the case that whoever is making a claim has the BOP, then we both have eaual BOP. However, this is not the case, as the default is disbelief- we assume free will does not exist until it is demonstrated that it does, just as we would do for unicorns, tachyons, or any other entity.

On Con's attempted rebuttal to [P1]- it is absolutely true that no immaterial soul has been convincingly demonstrated to exist. Once again, the default is not to believe in the existence of souls unless Con can demonstrate, in a way that would convince a religiously non-specific audience, the existence of an immaterial soul. [P1] stands unless Con can prove the existence of souls.

Mental processes are processes which happen within one's brain, and hence are physical properties as the brain is a physical entity. [P2] stands.

[P3] does not assume that we do not control our environment- only that we would have to have free will in order to be able to do so.

[P4] seems axiomatic- we do not have any control over where we were born.

"We still make choices of how we eat, diet and exercise which alter our bodies."

All of these are environmental factors- the food we consume and the amount of exercise we do are categorised by my definitions as environmental. Even if we feel the need to distinguish these and give them a separate category, [P3] is still true of them- we cannot be said to control the food we eat unless we already have free will, and we would have to have free will in order to be said to control the food we eat. This is an infinite cycle which can only be broken by a point at which we axiomatically have free will or axiomatically have control over the food we eat, and neither can be shown to be true as, as argued in [R3], we do not have things at birth and cannot conceivably gain them without already having them.

Con is appealing to naive intuition- we feel as though we have free will because we make decisions. However, the results of these decisions were predetermined (as argued above) and so we aren't really choosing anything because we couldn't conceivably have chosen otherwise- the result of our decision was predetermined by factors outside of our control.

Since our emotions and the results of the decisions we make are predetermined by factors outside of our control, we do not have free will.

"over 75% of the world believes in free will."

This is a bandwagon fallacy. See source 4. This is then followed by a BOP reversal. The BOP is not on whoever challenges the status quo, but on the positive claim- the truth value of any major world religion is a positive claim, and so the BOP lies with the religious. Even if we were to accept consensus as a sensible way to settle this, the vast majority of people do not believe in the truth value of any given world religion- most people worldwide are not Christians, for example.

"This statement is only true if you presuppose atheism and evolution together. Presuppositions are unscientific by definition. Therefore, to say Free Will does not exist is unscientific."

Firstly, you do not have to assume atheism to be true to follow my reasoning- it is as true under a theistic worldview provided one accepts that the soul was created by God and we had no control over the creation of our soul. That just puts "soul" next to "genetics, epigenetics, and environment" as another thing we do not have control over. The reasoning stands just as strongly.
Secondly, as atheism is not a positive claim, but rather the absence of theism, it is the default position and so is to be assumed in the absence of compelling evidence.

If, at this point, you remain unconvinced, I ask that you read my first argument one more time, as I recognise I presented some complex logic which may be difficult to follow.

Sources:
4: http://www.softschools.com...
DNehlsen

Con

The only way to dismiss the claim "free will does not exist" is to convincingly argue the claim "free will does exist".
Incorrect. You are saying Free Will does not exist, and there is no other option. I simply have to show that you cannot logically make such a claim.

However, this is not the case, as the default is disbelief
This is simply untrue. The default is not always disbelief. It is not up to me to prove that the Earth is round, it is up to anyone who objects to prove that the Earth is not round. It is not up to me to prove that 2 + 2 = 4, it is up to anyone who objects to prove that 2 + 2 ≠ 4. If a claim is being made which goes against the status quo, or common belief of the day, it is up to the one who rejects this claim to prove it. If the default was disbelief, how have you proven logic exists? How have you proven you yourself exist? It seems clear you paid no attention to my sources which backed up my point, yet boast your opinion as fact. Very interesting.

[P1] - It is up to you to prove that over 75% of the world is wrong about there being a soul. You cannot simply say 'There is no such thing as a soul, everyone is wrong but me, therefore there is no Free Will.' That is irresponsibly logic. My opponent has in no way shown the idea of a soul to be illegitimate. Several religions, with their own individual proofs, have brought up the idea and provided evidence for the idea of a soul and Free Will. My opponent has no addressed any of their claims or evidence, but just ruled them all out. Slopy Science.

[P2] - My opponent has presupposed that the brain is simply physical, while providing no evidence of such. One would only believe the brain is purely natural if he were to presuppose a Naturalistic worldview. P2 remains unfounded.

[P3, 4] The simple fact of the matter is there is nothing stopping me from eating a bannana versus an apple this afternoon. I could even eat nothing today if I so chose. My free will is limited in that I don't have any cookies here, but to say that is evidence we don't have free will is to confuse free will with omnipotent will. Just because we want something doesn't mean it will automatically be given to us, but we do have the power to choose.

Con is appealing to naive intuition...
How are the results of our decisions predetermined? This has not been shown by you. If I shoot someone, the result of him dying will occur. The response by others is not predetermined. There is no set result of this person dying, outside of the fact that he is dead. How is decision making not free will? We make decisions based on the choices available to us. Therefore we at least have the free will to make decisions.

How are our emotions predetermined by factors outside of our control? I can chose to alter my emotions either by means of willpower of medical assistance. I can chose to train my emotions to feel and act how I please. I have the free will to shape and form my emotions as well as whether or not to listen to them.

The BOP is not on whoever challenges the status quo, but on the positive claim-
My opponent has not provided any evidence of this claim, only his opinion. I provided sources before, and I'll provide three again. (12; 13; 14)

...most people worldwide are not Christians, for example.
Fact of the matter is that no one doubts the existance of Free Will. Hundreds have builts religions and worldviews defending it. You must refute them with fact, not presume you're right and then use that to win.

My opponent is using circular reasoning, and therefore has an irrelevant case. He continues to assume the lack of an omnipotent will equals the lack of a free will. This simply isn't true. It takes free will to Review and Submit this debate.

(12) - https://en.wikipedia.org...(philosophy)
(13) - https://www.cambridge.org...
(14) - https://link.springer.com...
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by AlchemyKat 10 months ago
AlchemyKat
Can't vote, literally made this account because this debate topic really struck me as having a lot of potential. Unfortunately the Con side used weak arguments (the inconclusiveness of psychology and religion) and showed a lack of understanding of what topic was being debated (i.e. the continued use of "choice" and "decision" making as being evidence of free will). It is the illusion of choice that is being debated in the first place so these statements were inappropriate and weak. The part about not being able to choose to eat a cookie because there is no cookie further suggested that Con was missing the point of the debate. It is quite unfortunate this topic could have gone much better. (I for one am undecided if free will exists due to quantum mechanics and the effect of observation on outcomes and how this fits into a framework where event A definitely causes event B, maybe there is some room for a decision)
Posted by backwardseden 10 months ago
backwardseden
@QueenDaisy Such as? Sorry I did not get back to you earlier. The power went out due to the hurricane. We only got it back yesterday morning. Well I went through all of my debates and did not see your voting on any of them. Perhaps you were thinking of someone else? But in all honesty I am most certainly NOT the most kindest and considerate person here. Why should I be when that upper lack of intelligence and edumacation flag goes ding form the opponents snide and they try to neatly filter in their pretend time at nursery school rather than saying something simple like "I don't know" as your opponent CLEARLY didn't do with your debate? Oh yeah. He knows he's licked. He knows he has no answers to what you state and or say. So what does his kind do at nearly every conjunction? He---invents---excuses and or flat out lies to make his extremely weak position seem strong. And it doesn't work now does it? Now I don't know about you, but when someone does that to me, I find that rather insulting. And wow is it within my ---ABSOLUTE--- rights to be demonstrative, dehumanize, and belittle this person. That's something that is taught in college. After all, who in their right mind would ever want to hang around with a creep like him? Someone who clearly has no genuine friends or loved ones? AND bring no evidence to the table to support any of his ridiculous claims. OR people will simply walk away from him. If he does that crap to his teachers = instant F and the teachers will not even think twice. hmm but strange isn't it, my insults are certainly original, filled with sarcasm, and very deadpan. And if I get whipped for my tail being pointed at the sun during nuclear winter, then hey, I most certainly am not going to change for debate.org. There's far worse debates that go on in the world and yet you nor anyone sees them as getting drunk over them. Awe gee do the presidential debates strike you as a grim reminder of a stale piece of moldy bread when squashed together?
Posted by canis 10 months ago
canis
"Free will": the ability to make decisions the result of which was not wholly determined by external factors.""
No..No will is an internal factor to begin with.
Posted by XxFoxlordxX 10 months ago
XxFoxlordxX
To clarify, I debated backwardssedan
Posted by XxFoxlordxX 10 months ago
XxFoxlordxX
@QueenDaisy take Sedan's words lightly. I just had a similar debate with him. To be blunt, it did not go well for him.
Posted by QueenDaisy 10 months ago
QueenDaisy
Thanks, backwardseden, but I've read a bunch of their debates and even voted on some of them, and I think your comments are unfounded.
Posted by backwardseden 10 months ago
backwardseden
WARNING: DNehlsen is not a worthy opponent. His information is deluded by made up excuses on the heels of fraudulent unproved unhinged and unchained laugh boxes with no way to trace back his so-called evidence to anything. So what he has, just like nearly all theists do here is made up junk. He knows it.
Now here's irrefutable evidence that IF you believe in god there's no such thing as free will. None.
https://www.youtube.com...... All Knowing god versus Free Will: The Greatest Religious Contradiction
https://www.youtube.com...... Free Will With god
https://www.youtube.com...... god Favors Evil
https://www.youtube.com...... god allows Free Will?
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