The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

There is no mechanism that permits free will to exist.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/13/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 380 times Debate No: 65114
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




The point of this debate will be to think about if there is a way/mechanism in which free will can exist.

Pro will argue that there is no mechanism that permits free will to exist.
Con will argue that there is a mechanism that offers us free will.

Since Pro cannot argue against all imaginable paths to free will, Pro shouldn't be held to an unreasonable standard of proof. Grade Pro on the strength of the argument. In order for Con to win the debate, Con must offer some type of mechanism that can grant us free will. Since Con is in the defensive position, having to argue for a positive claim (there is a mechanism), I will grant Con a few exceptions. One, Con doesn't have to demonstrate the mechanism exist. Con only has to offer a mechanism that could grant us free will. Two, Con is free to use magic or any other means to create his mechanism. Once again, it isn't important for Con to prove the mechanism exists, only that if it did, we could have free will.

One last stipulation, the realities of human behavior will be factored in with the mechanism. When these two are paired, and then we compare that to the world we see, in order for the mechanism to be valid, it must fit with what we know from human behavior. It must be able to explain the diverse behavior patterns we see in the world.

Definition of free will. Free=untethered, Will=ability to make any choice. Free will=untethered choices

Round 1, acceptance
Round 2, Pro argues no mechanism can work
Con presents his mechanism for free will
Round 3, Further arguments and rebuttals
Round 4, no new points, further support for previous arguments, rebuttals and conclusions

A lit p.s., I had posted this debate already. However the Con positions seemed to be debating another topic. If you accept the debate, please accept the definition of free will and be prepared to argue for the key point, the mechanism.

Thank you


Free will relies on one thing, motivation. It is not a "mechanism" as my opponent wishes me to put forth, but whether one"s motives are that of vengeance, desire, habit, intuition, etc., motivation is clearly the driving force behind why we do what we do.
Debate Round No. 1


Why am I motivated to turn left instead of right?
Why am I motivated to talk to the blonde, instead of the brunette?
Why am I motivated to paint as a hobby, instead of sculpting?
Why am I motivated to sit in the back of the classroom instead of the front?
What directs my motivation?
Does my motivation hang in thin air?
Is my motivation just randomness?
What is the governing mechanism that directs my motivation? If there isn't one, what Con suggests, then why am I motivated in any direction at all? Lets think a little deeper.

We all feel as though we have free will. We feel as though we make choices. We feel as though we are motivated to act in a particular fashion. But rarely do we ever ask ourselves, "why did I choose that?" In this debate I will be looking for the answer to that "why" question. I will be comparing what we know about human behavior to see if there is a model that permits us to have free will, while mapping to our observations. This is the intent of the debate. Since Con accepted this debate, having made that clear in round 1, I will work from the position that Con will hold up his end of the bargain and offer a mechanism. He did accept after all.

What do we observe regarding human behavior?
1. A diverse set of opinions. No two humans would agree on every single preference, perspective or opinion.
2. Drugs. When a human being is under the influence of drugs, their behavior (motivation) will often change.
3. Disease. When the human brain suffers from an disease the behavior of the person can change.
4. Injury. When the human brain suffers an injury, the behavior of the person can change.
5. Aging. As the human brain ages the behavior of the person can change.
6. Intelligence. How intelligent an individual is can influence the conclusions they arrive at.
7. Preferences. Human beings have clear preferences. One person may prefer blonde's to brunettes, tall people to short.
8. Personality traits. Introvert, outgoing, shy, analytical, whimsical, serious, comedic, ext.
9. Phobias. Some human beings have strong phobias, fear of heights, fears of small spaces, fear of crowds, ext.

Why? Why do we have these characteristics? What explains them? The above traits can clearly influence, if not control, our behavior. What is the mechanism that grounds these traits? Why are they there? Con says "free will is motivation." How does that explain a phobia?

The above traits clearly influence/guide/control our decision. But did we choose these traits? If we didn't choose the traits, then we didn't choose the behavior that is the result of those traits. If we didn't choose the behavior, then we don't have free will.

Lets look a little deeper into the traits with a few examples.
E1. Bob prefers blonde's. Bob didn't choose this preference. (we don't choose preferences) Bob is sitting in a coffee shop. Two girls sit at a table, one blonde, one brunette. Bob's sexual attraction MOTIVATES (not chosen) Bob to approach the girls. Bob's preference for blondes motivates Bob to talk to the blonde girl first. Where is the free will here? Bob has a biological desire to procreate, that isn't chosen, but it motivates his behavior. Bob prefers blondes, so he approaches the blonde first. Bob will feel as though this is all his choice. But the preferences and a biological desire is what is motivating Bob. Neither of these chosen by Bob. How does Bob have free will?

E2. Bob at breakfast. Toast with a choice of milk/orange juice/coffee. Bob is motivated to select coffee. But lets ask why? (looking deeper) Bob stayed up late, wants caffeine. Why did Bob stay up late? (looking deeper) Bob watched a football game? Why? Bob's favorite team, Dallas Cowboys was playing. Why does Bob like Dallas? As a kid, Bob lived in Colorado. The Broncos and Cowboys played in a Super Bowl then. One of Bob's personality traits is that he hates following the crowd. Everybody loved Denver, being in Colorado. Bob rooted for Cowboys to beat Denver. They did. Later in life Bob began liking football, picked Cowboys as his team, thinking back to his childhood experience. Back to the top, Why did Bob choose coffee? One of Bob's personality traits is to go against the group. (traits aren't chosen) This lead to the choice to pick coffee on this morning. Where's Bob's free will?

One objection to either example would be to say, "Bob could have chosen the brunette or the milk. Bob doesn't have to follow his preferences." What would motivate Bob to resist a preference? Maybe another preference. Bob thinks about free will, so he chooses to act against his preferences, convincing himself he has made a free choice. But this is also a preference. Bob prefers to think he has free will. (doesn't like the idea of not having, how we feel about ideas isn't chosen) Bob prefers free will more than the blonde, chooses the brunette. But the thing that really happen was Bob followed a different preference. We don't choose preferences. Bob didn't choose to make his choice.

As I stated in round 1, goal of this debate is to compare our observations of human behavior and try and come up with a model that grants us free will while mapping to the observations. I will now discuss a few optional models to see if they fit and grant us free will.

Model 1. A materialistic universe. In a materialistic universe the foundation of all things is matter. Matter follows set laws of physics. All things, including humans, are made of matter. Matter follows laws, humans are matter, humans follow laws. The logical conclusion, in a materialistic universe, is that humans follow the laws that govern matter of which they are made of. There is no mechanism in a materialistic universe that offers us free will

Model 2. Quantum Mechanics has been suggested that it may be a mechanism that offers us free will. This is generally argued for because Quantum Mechanics isn't completely predictable. Leading some to conclude that since it isn't predictable, yet is part of a material universe, that Quantum Mechanics offers a type of free will. This isn't true. Quantum systems are described as a wave function. Within the wave function lays probability of the system. There is no free will here, only a particular probability. If our choice is ultimately governed by probability, well that just isn't free will. Quantum Mechanics doesn't offer us a mechanism for free will.

Model 3. I'm going to leave the material universe and jump to a universe that has souls in it. I'm going to see if a soul mechanism offers us free will. In order for a soul to grant us free will, it must have the freedom to make selections or choices independent from outside influences. Does this map to reality? How do we explain preferences? (thinking deeper) Does the soul come with preferences? If so, then the soul wasn't free to choose the preferences, ultimately not free to choose a path that is influenced by the preferences. No free will if the soul is preloaded with preferences. Maybe the soul is blank? Well then were are the preferences located? In the physical brain. Then the soul is bound by the physical brain, and not free to choose. Does the soul come with an already set level of intelligence? The same problem as preferences is here. Disease of the physical brain, in soul modeled universe, affects the behavior of the individual. This material effect to the brain has an effect on the soul. The soul isn't free to choose. The soul modeled universe doesn't offer us a mechanism to grants us free will and maps to reality.

I'm running low on characters here. I'm going to turn it over to the Con position. Once again, the topic is "There is no mechanism that permits free will to exist." Con accepted this phrasing. Con will need to argue for some mechanism. I've granted Con any mechanism he can imagine. No need to prove it exist. No need to prove free will. Only stipulation is that the mechanism must grant us free will and map to our observed behaviors.

Con the floor is yours.


ayshea66 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


I thought the argument I presented was a strong argument. Despite this, I didn't realize it would cause the Con position to tap out.

I will take Con's silence as a concession.

I'll leave the audience with a quote, "I have a condition. People like me are prone to violent fantasy and jealous rage; we are over 10 times more likely to commit murder and over 40 times more likely to commit sexual assault. Most prisoners suffer from my condition, and almost everyone on death row has it. Relative to other people, we have an abundance of testosterone, which is associated with dominance and aggression, and a deficit in oxytocin, associated with compassion. My sons share my condition, and so does my father."

What is the condition this writer speaks of? The condition of being a male. The act of being a male, the physical characteristics that encompass being a male, drastically increases the likelihood of incarceration. Free will doesn't exist. You are your genes. There is no mechanism that grants us free will, while mapping to observed behavior.


ayshea66 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


My dominance in this debate has no equivalent.


ayshea66 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by vi_spex 1 year ago
knowledge is free will, belief is mentally enslaved, for balance.

if you can be mentally enslaved free will must exist
Posted by UndeniableReality 1 year ago
Good luck on getting a proper opponent!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture