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We have free will.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/18/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 228 times Debate No: 91463
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
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I will be arguing for the existence of what philosophers call agent causal libertarian free will, which is the position that we have the ability to make free choices which are neither random nor deterministic, but proceed from our rational nature as an agent.

The existence of free will is an axiom, which means that it is both self evident and presupposed by all other knowledge, including any attempt to deny it. Another example of an axiom is the proposition "there is an objective reality." Anyone can see directly that there is an objective reality, so the proposition is self evident, and it is self refuting to deny that there is an objective reality, since any such denial entails that it itself is not objectively correct.

It is self evident that we have free will, as anyone can see by introspection. As you read this post, you have the ability to bring yourself to a state of full focus, carefully weighing each of my arguments. You also have the ability to drift lazily along, not absorbing the points I make in favor of my position. Finally, you have the ability to deliberately evade my arguments by consciously exerting effort not to understand them. The overwhelming testimony of experience shows that these three alternatives, focus, drift, and evasion, are always present to us.

When we choose to be in focus, which is the primary choice, we can choose which influences will cause our subsequent thoughts and actions, which is the secondary choice. Every action we perform is done for a reason, but if we make the effort to think clearly we can decide which influences are efficacious, and which are not. So, every action has a cause, but that doesn't mean we don't have free will, since our free will is precisely the ability to choose the causes of our actions.

For example, a runner who is tired and wants to stop can choose to think clearly about whether to stop, as opposed to making the decision on a momentary impulse. Once he makes a commitment to be in focus, he can decide whether he wants to be motivated by his long term health (keep running) or by the exhaustion he feels (stop running). No matter which choice he makes, his decision is caused, but he chose what the cause would be.

Now that I have described the nature of free will, it is self evident from introspection and observation of other people that we have free will. It is self evident that we can choose to bring ourselves into focus, then weigh alternatives for and against our decisions, as I have described.

In addition to the fact that free will is self evident, any attempt to deny that we have free will is self refuting, since any such attempt tacitly presupposes that we have free will.

The determinist maintains that his thoughts, including determinism, are not caused by a free process of deliberation. Rather, according to the determinist, his thoughts and actions are all caused by deterministic external factors over which he has no control, and which he may have no awareness of, like chemical processes in his brain.

This immediately raises a problem: If the determinist's thoughts are all caused by external factors that he cannot control, how does he know that his thoughts are correct? He has no access to the chemical processes that go on in his brain, they are a mystery to him. All he can say, really, is that the blind forces that control his decisions have resulted in his accepting his current set of beliefs. He has no way of checking his beliefs against reality, since the process of checking as well as its outcome would also be caused by the unknowable, blind chemical processes that he thinks control all of his thoughts.

Worse, on the determinist's view, the chemical processes going on in other people's brains have led them to countless conclusions that contradict his own. He has no rational way of resolving these disputes, since any attempt at a resolution would simply be another questionable output of the unknowable forces churning in his brain. All he can say is that his brain produced output A and the other person's brain produced output B.

If we accept that we have free will, then none of these problems come up, because our conclusions are the product of the free process of deliberation that we observe when we introspect, and we can check our conclusions by applying the canons of logic and epistemology to the reasoning that led to them. It doesn't matter if other people disagree with us, provided we can prove that we are right logically, because we know that the actual source of our beliefs is the rational deliberation we went through to arrive at them, not some hidden chemical process.

To sum up, it is an axiom that we have free will. Free will is self evident, because we can observe it at work using introspection and when we observe other people, and it is self refuting to deny it, because all knowledge tacitly presupposes our ability to engage in a free process of rational deliberation.


If we simply take a look at the dimensions in which we live, you can see that free will and choice are illusions.
The first dimension is a line. on it exists infinite points that you can travel to in the first dimension but you cannot travel to a different line.
This last point I just made is solved in the second dimension which is a plane, one of which has infinite lines that you can travel to, including the two I mentioned earlier.
In the second dimension however, you cannot travel to different planes, the third dimension is needed for this which is depth, this creates what we know as 3D objects and are an object with infinite planes, lines, and points.
The fourth dimension is Time or duration, which is like a line passing through all of these 3D objects and connects them all on a moving, lasting line. Similarly to the other dimensions, this 4D line connects all the moments in time and allows us to move through life. Therefore, if you were in or out of the fourth dimension and its effects were not acting on you, you could travel to any point in time, including the future. That means if someone traveled to the future and saw that I chose to run a red light and died, then they came back to the present as I was reproaching the red light, they know I will run it. To me it seems as though I have a choice but since it has already been seen and happened at a point in time then while I am seemingly presented with the options of running the light or not, there is only one possibility, one "choice", I can make.
Debate Round No. 1


First of all, you have not addressed any of the reasoning I provided in my opening post.

I don't think you have made an argument here, you are just describing what the world would be like if determinism were true. You argue that time is a line stretching into the future laid out before us, and that a time traveler would be able to jump in and out of this line. But that's not an argument, it's just a description of a deterministic universe.

A different way of looking at time is as a garden of forking paths, rather than a single line. If we have free will, then this is what time has to be like, since we have the ability to make choices that aren't determined by external factors. To show that this description of time is wrong, you would have to argue that we don't have free will, which you haven't done.

Indeed, if free will is an axiom, as I argued in my first post, then time can't be like you describe, since your description of time contradicts an axiom.


I am going to risk losing a debate round here but I would like you to clarify what you mean by time being a forking path. Do you mean multiverse theory? Like each choice splits into a different reality in which a different version of yourself chose the other option?
Debate Round No. 2


By a forking path I mean that there are multiple possibilities. If determinism is true then there is only one possibility about what the future will be, so it would be a single line, as you said. If we have free will, then there are multiple possibilities, so the future is a forking path.

Judges, regardless of what you think about the arguments that have been made so far, I hope you will keep in mind that my opponent hasn't introduced any arguments or responses to my arguments up to this point. Even if he introduces arguments in the last round, it's not fair to me to not make any arguments until the last round when I can't respond to what he says.


I really do not get your argument. You start by saying we have free will, then prove it by saying it is an axiom, appealing to popularity which is an ad populum fallacy. Then when I introduce a way of looking at time itself, you simply say no lets look at it this way because its the right way, or rather just your way, which is a black and white fallacy. Along with that you brought up time being a forking path and if you want to look at it that way then you have to look at multiverse theory which is that as time progresses and we make choices each choice creates a fork in the time stream creating a new universe. So if we do say that time is a forking path and that each fork creates a different universe, then no matter what choice you make you will stay in your universe, the one you were, lets say, "predestined" to be in. You cannot leave it since, while the other choices fork into different realities. you are only in this one. Therefore for matter what "choice" you make you will stay in the same universe meaning that there never was a real choice just two options with one outcome. All of that to say that according to you we live in a world where time is an axiom, and seen as a forking path. You or me personally though only follow one line in that path and other versions of ourselves are in the rest meaning that you cannot escape that universe and travel to a different choice-created universe.

note: also if there are infinite universes like in multiverse theory there are technically universes with free will and ones that do not.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Ockham 5 months ago
It is self evident that our thought processes are not deterministic or random. You can observe this by introspection while you perform a process of reasoning, and denying it is self refuting as I argued in Round 1.
Posted by A1tre 5 months ago
for your argument about free will being self evident to work you have to show that thought processes are free from randomness and cause & effect.
Posted by vi_spex 5 months ago
says the mentally enslaved
Posted by ViceRegent 5 months ago
You have to love this bozo's "reason". He will prove the existence of free will by asserting it as an axiom that he believes to be true based on the ad populum fallacy. I wish atheists would stop pretending to be rational. Those of us who actually are rational see right through their pretense.
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