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Two lever argument against free will

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8/15/2011 12:16:57 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I enjoyed this so i thought i would share.

There exist only two levers for controlling outcomes in the universe. One must be able to influence at least one of these in order to have any true (free) influence on the world:

1.The previous state of the universe
i.e. how the universe was configured at the moment prior to you making a decision.
2.The laws that govern the universe
The physical rules that will determine how the universe transitions from one state to another, namely from the previous-state to the next-state.
If you do not have some measure of influence on at least one of these two variables, you simply cannot affect (let alone control) any future state of the universe. Thus, if you are unable to control any future state of the universe, then–regardless of how it may feel–you are incapable of making a true, free decision. Instead, causal events are moving through you, and you are being given the perception that you made a choice.

Neither quantum randomness nor consciousness provide an escape from this. Randomness simply removes predictability from the universe–it does not provide humans any additional control of outcomes. Similarly, consciousness–since it does not offer the ability to control the previous state of the universe or its laws–offers no escape either–despite strong instinctual feelings to the contrary.

A Thought Experiment
Imagine the universe before you were born. Consider how much control over the world you had at that point. Zero. Now imagine the world in which you are a fetus. How much control did you have now? Still zero. Now imagine that you are a toddler being forged by genetics and environmental programming. Extend that to adulthood.

Ask yourself a simple question: At what point did every molecule of your being stop being 100% outside of your control? At what point between you not existing and you being an adult did your decision-making process inject itself in the middle of natural, causal interactions that were taking place before you were born? The answer is never. Nothing changed. You have today, as an adult, precisely the same amount of control over the universe that you had before you were born. None.

There are two levers–the universe's state before you make a decision, and the laws that govern transitions to the next state. Demonstrate that you can pull one or the other and you have demonstrated free will. Failing to do so keeps you within the natural, causal cycle of [pre-existing state + physical law = outcome], which are all things humans have absolutely no control over. Free will is an illusion. ::

Notes1 My two-lever argument is similar to Galen Strawson's "Basic Argument", which can be found here: []
2 There's actually a third lever: The supernatural. E.g. "God gave us free will". The reason it wasn't included should be obvious
3 For insight into why I think this matters, please read this: []
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8/15/2011 12:28:26 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Ask yourself a simple question: At what point did every molecule of your being stop being 100% outside of your control?
Sometime in toddlerhood or before, as I can recall choosing to do things a few times at that point.Not too often, but that's because I don't have many memories from then.

Two levers is a conclusion you need an argument for, not an argument, enjoy.
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Posts: 10,806
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8/15/2011 12:55:19 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
Yea... this is incomplete at best.
I am voting for Innomen because of his intelligence, common sense, humility and the fact that Juggle appears to listen to him. Any other Presidential style would have a large sub-section of the site up in arms. If I was President I would destroy the site though elitism, others would let it run riot. Innomen represents a middle way that works, neither draconian nor anarchic and that is the only way things can work. Plus he does it all without ego trips.