The Instigator
Capitalistslave
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Anonymous_Jim
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Determinism

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/25/2017 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 577 times Debate No: 101376
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (0)

 

Capitalistslave

Pro

Traditionally, there are four positions within this philosophical line of thinking:
Hard determinism- Belief that "for every event there exist conditions that could cause no other event" and free will does not exist.
Combatibilism- Belief that free will is compatible with determinism and both exist
Hard incombatilism- neither free will nor determinism exists
Libertarianism- Belief that free will exists and determinism does not.
Definitions from here[1]
My position: I will be arguing for hard determinism. My opponent may take any of the other 3 positions.

Rules of the debate:
1) Be civil, no insults, ad hominem, personal attacks etc
2) The number of rounds used for argument should be the total number of rounds you see here minus one.
3) The first round used for argument should just be main arguments. No direct rebuttals to your opponent's main arguments are allowed.
4) The last round used for argument should just be rebuttal. No new arguments allowed here. New facts and information is allowed, but only in rebuttal to your opponent's arguments.


Sources
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org...
Anonymous_Jim

Con

I will be taking the Compatibilist perspective. I think many people are under the illusion that they have free will, but free will is possible among individuals who are able to reach a certain awareness.
Debate Round No. 1
Capitalistslave

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting the debate, and I shall begin presenting my evidence and arguments in favor of hard determinism. Although this will be a short round for me, I believe what I present is pretty compelling.

There is strong evidence that brain activity occurs before feeling of choice, suggesting an illusion of free will
In an experiment conducted by Benjamin Libet et al. where participants were told to move their fingers at any time they chose, scans of their brain showed that cerebral activity to tell the fingers to move occurs before they reported deciding that they wanted to move their fingers or felt the desire to do so[2]. When the experiment was performed again in 2011 by Itzhak Fried, Roy Mukamel, and Gabriel Kreiman, the same results were found[3]. This suggests that the experiment is replicable, and gives it more credence. Fried was able to also predict when participants chose to do this action, before they even had conscious awareness they were going to do it themselves.

This suggests that the brain acts independently of our own conscious awareness of when we "choose" to do something, and we only think we have free will. It certainly seems intuitive to believe we have free will, since it feels like you get to choose all of your actions. You can "freely" move your arm and body parts, but since the brain fires up before you're even aware of your choice to move your body, do you really even have free will?

There are brain differences in people who are more likely to commit violence
It's been found that in criminal minds and violent people, there is an increase amount of serotinin which is causing them to have escalated violence[4] and even psychopaths have very different brains that are causing them to be the way that they are[5]. None of these people had control over how their brain turned out, and since the brain is what determines how we will act, this suggests we have no control over how we act. I contend, therefore, that because we have no control over our brains, we don't control the input of our decision making process.

There is strong evidence to suggest that our brain and psychology is dependent on genetic and environmental factors.
There are numerous studies that suggest our brain and psychology are dependent on genetic and environmental factors[6][7][8]. We neither choose our genetics nor the environment we are born into. Since these are the primary factors in shaping our brain and psychology, they determine how we will act. Can you honestly say that if you had the same genes and were raised in the same exact way as a psychopath, that you would be any different? If you believe that, then what makes you believe you'd choose to do different things than a psychopath? Additionally, if you had the same genes and environment as a suicidal person, can you honestly say that you wouldn't be suicidal? If you say yes, you need to back this up with evidence.

Conclusion of this round:
I believe these three evidences are compelling: 1) there being strong evidence for the fact that the brain has activity in it suggesting we will do something before we even know we plan on doing it 2) Brain differences in every person that affect how we will act, and how violent people have an increase of serotinin and 3) Evidence that our psychology and brain are dependent on our genetic and environmental factors. All of these facts point to that we have little to no control over our actions.

I'll turn this over to my opponent, who will be arguing that free will and determinism is compatible or that there is a mixture of the two ideas.

Sources:
[2] http://www.trans-techresearch.net...
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
[4] http://www.brainfacts.org...
[5] http://www.med.wisc.edu...
[6] http://www.nature.com...
[7] https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org...
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...
Anonymous_Jim

Con

I must begin by saying that I agree with all three of your points. However, I don't think you have presented the adequate reasoning to conclude that free will does not exist entirely.

The time delay it takes our brains to process information and then act on it would explain the fact that there may be an extension of activity shown before the feeling of choice because our brains are in the process of deciding how to act before we actually act. I would agree that this process would cause the brain to act independently of our own conscious, but only for individuals who don't have the level of awareness of acknowledging how their conditions and situations have formed their being. By being able to acknowledge and control all the external factors that shape who we are, we can have power over how these externalities effect us internally through expression of our free will. I freely move my arm and body, not because my brain fired up beforehand to make it so, but because of my preconceived choice prior to that moment to stretch and exercise as often as possible to help maintain a healthy body.

The reason that many people lack the awareness of free will is because their consciousness was formed by external conditions and situations that ultimately decided how they would perceive these externalities as well as their internal self. The chance that an individual has free will is perhaps equivalent to that of moral luck, but free will requires more than mere morality; free will requires the awareness that takes us beyond the individual self into the reality of the endless potential of the present moment where all thought exists.
Debate Round No. 2
Capitalistslave

Pro

I'll restate what I said previously:
If you were given the same exact genes and raised in the same exact environment as a pedophile, would you grow any differently but to have an attraction to prepubescent chilren? Let's say this pedophile also molested a child, can you honestly say that you would have chosen not to do so, given you had the same exact experiences and same genetics as the pedophile?

Unless you can somehow prove that a person is capable of making a different choice than someone when they are put in the same exact environment and given the same genes, how can you conclude free will exists at all? Unless there is a possibillity of someone being able to make a different choice, how is there free will?

Now, I'll rebut my opponent's arguments: I'll put direct quotes from them in italics, and if the quote is too long, I'll summarize it and put it in bold.

I would agree that this process would cause the brain to act independently of our own conscious, but only for individuals who don't have the level of awareness of acknowledging how their conditions and situations have formed their being.
It almost sounds like you are rebutting my argument in general. I don't know, it's kind of a grey area. If others agree with me, I would suggest that they vote for me for conduct, as rule 3 stated that the first round used for argument should just be main arguments, and not direct rebuttals of your opponent's main arguments. I'll leave this up to voters to decide. If they think what my opponent is saying in this round is a rebuttal to my points, then I would suggest they vote for me for conduct, as they broke one of the rules. If not, then they can just vote for a tie in conduct.

To actually address this argument though, I wold like to ask what evidence you have for individuals who have this level of awareness that they don't have a process that causes the brain to act independently of our own conscious. This would be a bare assertion fallacy or an ipse dixit[9] until you provide evidence that suggests this. There would be people who don't have the brain fire up prior to their conscious decision to move a body part, if what you said is true.

I freely move my arm and body, not because my brain fired up beforehand to make it so, but because of my preconceived choice prior to that moment to stretch and exercise as often as possible to help maintain a healthy body.
It's also an assumption that this was a preconceived choice. As I pointed out, we all have different brains, different genetics, and different environments. I'm someone who almost never exercises. Are you telling me, that if you were born with my same genetics and lived in my same environment, that you would be able to freely choose to exercise when I couldn't given my genes and environment? And if so, why are you able to exercise where I couldn't? I almost always tell myself that I'll exericise one day, and you could argue that was my "preconceived choice" made prior to when I do actually exercise or not, but I end up almost never actually exercising. It's as though I don't have the will to exercise for some reason, even though I recognize it is a good thing and I want to do it. Now, some people do exercise, but do they have the will to not exercise? Is the choice to not exercise something that their brain would allow them to do?

The reason that many people lack the awareness of free will is because their consciousness was formed by external conditions and situations that ultimately decided how they would perceive these externalities as well as their internal self.
Well, why doesn't this logic also apply to those who seem to have an awareness of free will? Is it not the case that many people have an awareness of free will "becase their consciousness was formed by external conditions and situations that ultimately decided how they would perceive these externalities as well as their internal self"? A possible reason some people believe they have free will because they have the right genes and environment that developed their brain to have synaptic connections that make them believe they have free will. The awareness and belief someone has free will, however, doesn't prove we have it. The intuition that most people have that they have free will does not prove we have it.

So far, my opponent hasn't offered evidence that free will exists. I've offered evidence that suggests events outside of our consciousness determine what our actions will be.

I would like my opponent to answer the question I posed at the top though. I challenge my opponent to offer evidence of the free will as well as answering the question I posed at top about the pedophile.
Sources:
[9] https://en.wikipedia.org...
Anonymous_Jim

Con

To answer your question about the pedophile, if someone had all the same experiences and genetics as the pedophile, then the outcome of their lives would be the same; but this would imply that this someone and the pedophile are the same person, since the variation of genetics are unique to the individual, so this someone would not be its own being, but the pedophile himself or a clone.

If you were to ask, would two individuals end up with the same psychological state if they had been exposed to the exact same environment and general external conditions/situations? Well, it is certainly possible, but the possibility of this is random, as discovered on the quantum level.

"Essentially, quantum mechanics tells us that there are things which we cannot know about the future, things which are not predetermined but happen with some factor of chance or randomness. Although many things in the world may be predicted, everything is not predetermined, and our actions do not unfold mechanically in a manner predetermined since the very moment of the Big Bang. Free will is preserved" -

http://bigthink.com...

The brain is like a muscle; your will power is only as strong as you are able to make it, but we can strengthen it nonetheless. If for example you were to realize how important exercising is for us, then perhaps you would be able to gather the will to start and stick with it. Being healthy and exercising daily is a lifestyle; many people who have been exercising for long enough may frequently have the will to not exercise, but they exercise regardless because they've strengthened their will power to keep exercising despite their desire to take a day off.

As technology continues to advance, quantum physics will perhaps reveal much more about reality that we thought would never be possible; And since there is still so much we don't know about our brains and consciousness, who knows what will be revealed in the decades to come. You don't need to believe that a God exists in order for free will to be plausible, you just need to believe that you can change reality if you can change your thoughts. If you can question everything about yourself while being completely honest with yourself and attain control over your emotional stability, then you probably have a strong will.
Debate Round No. 3
Capitalistslave

Pro

To answer your question about the pedophile, if someone had all the same experiences and genetics as the pedophile, then the outcome of their lives would be the same; but this would imply that this someone and the pedophile are the same person, since the variation of genetics are unique to the individual, so this someone would not be its own being, but the pedophile himself or a clone.
Well, there is another way to have the same genetics as someone else, and that is being an indentical twin. Still, it's very difficult for them to have the same exact environment.

Re Quantum mechanics suggests free will
I fail to see how the fact there is uncertanty in the movement of atoms, which is what quantum mechanics discusses, deals with the decision making process of the human mind. It is true that, say, now it would be impossible to predict what I would do 10 years in the future, and that seems to be the point of quantum mechanics, but if you were to go within seconds before a decision is made, and scan the brain of someone, you can predict precisely what they will do before they're even aware that they made the choice to do it. That was what the evidence I provided above shows. Just because there is uncertainty about human behavior for what will happen in 10 years, doesn't mean we suddenly have free will. Uncertainty doesn't prove there is free will. Another possible explanation for the uncertainty, besides free will, is that we simply just don't know all of the factors that lead to the decision making process of people or, more relevant to quantum mechanics, that we don't know what causes an atom to move. I just don't see how quantum mechanics supports the notion of free will. It seems like you have to do some convoluted thinking with quantum mechanics to do that. The evidence is pretty clear that the brain decides what to do before we even have a conscious awareness of it.


If for example you were to realize how important exercising is for us, then perhaps you would be able to gather the will to start and stick with it.
Well, I do realize how important exercise is. But this is getting somewhat off-topic.


And since there is still so much we don't know about our brains and consciousness, who knows what will be revealed in the decades to come. You don't need to believe that a God exists in order for free will to be plausible, you just need to believe that you can change reality if you can change your thoughts.
Change of thought usually occurs due to outside causes. Something triggers a change in the brain, which is a very plastic organ, and that allows us to think a different way. We wouldn't be able to think another way unless our brain chemistry allowed us to.


Conclusion:
In short, I believe the evidence I provided is pretty compelling about how free will likely doesn't exist and that determinism holds true. My opponent accepted all of the evidence, without realizing one of them pretty much is incompatible with the idea of free will: which was the experiments confirming that before a person chooses to do something, their brain is already firing up for it before you even have a conscious awareness of an illusion of choosing to do that action. My opponent hasn't showed instances where a person's brain doesn't fire up before their conscious awareness of actions. Instead, they attempted to use quantum mechanics to suggest free will, but it doesn't seem clear how it exactly supports the idea of free will. As I mentioned, just because there is uncertainty, it doesn't support the notion of free will, simply that there is some unknown variable going on.
Anonymous_Jim

Con

There is still much to learn from quantum theory; until more research is done, we cannot determine if free will is a definite, but the possibility is there.

I'm aware that i'm breaking one of your rules by presenting the following, but I think it is a point that further proves free will's possibility and I've only been aware of the following for a day or so. In light of this perhaps unprofessionalism on my part, the voters decide the outcome, so perhaps they will allow this; sorry, not sorry.

The process of mindful meditation has the potential of strengthening our will.

"Mindfulness practice enhances freedom by expanding the human capacity for being in the here and now, a state which, arguably, transcends the normal sequence of past/present/future causality. Much of the time, the mind is in a state of undirected flux as it fixes on one object after another in a seemingly random and dissipated fashion. By "cultivating mindfulness", the Dalai Lama reminds us, "we learn first to become aware of this process of dissipation, so that we can gently fine-tune the mind to follow a more directed path towards the objects on which we wish to focus.'" -http://www.academia.edu...

Although a being that has complete free will is perhaps impossible, internal free will does exist if you learn to strengthen your subconscious through emotional awareness. This can only be made certain to us if we ourselves put in the effort to explore the possibilities of mindful meditation. I have only begun this process so I remain skeptical, but if inner free will exists, it can only be reached through practice, repetition, and focus, just like any other form of exercise.

Through meditation, we can dig into the deepest corners of our mind to discover the roots of our experiences and miseries. Few have the ability to do this, but we all have the potential to, since we are human (aka miracles of the universe!)
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Capitalistslave 1 year ago
Capitalistslave
Free_Will_Does_Not_Exist, I kind of figured you agreed with me given your name lol
Posted by Free_Will_Does_Not_Exist 1 year ago
Free_Will_Does_Not_Exist
I'm very excited to see this debate but sadly I can't participate because I agree with you.
Posted by canis 1 year ago
canis
Who would care...?
No votes have been placed for this debate.