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

Free will is an illusion

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/19/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,068 times Debate No: 115736
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (8)
Votes (2)




Looking forward to a great debate!


I will use this first round for acceptance. I look forward to an interesting debate! :)
Debate Round No. 1


Free will is merely an illusion.

I understand that this is disturbing to many and will cause a visceral, adversarial reaction in some. It is disturbing for people to be told that they are not, have never been, and will never be in control of the wants that arise in consciousness and therefore the consequent actions. I blame no one for succumbing to the illusion of free will - the feeling that in any given circumstance, one could have chosen otherwise. Most people want to believe that their good deeds have merit and their morally praiseworthy actions are in fact morally praiseworthy. However, even a cursory examination reveals that this simply cannot be a condition that any logical person supposes.

One cannot control what it is that they want - they cannot dictate their own impulses and tendencies. We have no idea what we intend to do until that intention itself comes into existence. In no way is it possible to be the author of one's own conscious desires. Perhaps you can decide what you will do next, but you certainly cannot decide what you will decide to do.

"Everything is determined, the beginning as well as the end, by forces over which we have no control. It is determined for the insect as well as the star." - Albert Einstein

"The first dogma which I came to disbelieve was that of free will. It seemed to me that all notions of matter were determined by the laws of dynamics and could not therefore be influenced by human wills." - Bertrand Russell

“How can we be “free” as conscious agents if everything that we consciously intend is caused by events in our brain that we do not intend and of which we are entirely unaware?” - Sam Harris

"Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills." - Arthur Schopenhauer

There are, of course, many deep implications of this - for the justice system, religion, morality, etc. However, that is not what I wish to debate here. I simply wish to contend that free will is a mere illusion in our current reality.


My opponents claim seems to spring a leak, as soon as he/she brings the idea of impulses and tendencies into the argument. To claim that we cannot control our impulses is rather short sighted. When we are acting "impulsive", we are acting without reason or rationality, but those impulses only prove to merely influence our emotions. Influence is not the same as control. My opponent will need to convince us that we do not ever have control of our choice to act reasonable, or impulsive in any given situation. I think my opponent has made the mistake of not recognizing the sequence of events that governs our actions. Lets say an object is heading straight toward you at a great speed, you use your senses to understand the situation. Your eyes see the object and sends that information to your brain ( its a large rock). At this moment, you have a choice to act rational, or impulsive. Since past circumstances have not gone well when you stood still and tried to reason with the rock, you decide to forego the rational choice and get rather impulsive and just in the nick of time you're able to evade a collision with a large rock. Just because this sequence of events seems to happen instantaneously, doesn't mean it happened outside of our ability to control our function. Our memory is superb with categorizing our emotions and relating it with circumstances that are happening now. Because we can remember how we felt the last time a large hunk of pumice raced toward our head, we have an emotional blueprint for instant( or what seems to be instant) reference to base our decision from. Just because this phenomenon seems instantaneous, it gives us the illusion of some other force at work that we cannot control. If you're going to argue that instinct is at work, and we can't control that, then I will ask you to reconsider what instict is. Some may believe we are born with instinctual capabilities, but how do you think a newborn would have faired with the large rock. That newborn has no past emotions to help it make a conscious decision of what to do. Is instinct really something we are born with, or is it an illusion made up of our emotional blueprint? Not to say I don't believe in instinct, I just question our perception of what instinct is and where it truly comes from.

If my opponent is going to argue that we have no control over our emotions, I will concede that point to him/her, but if my opponent is going to argue that we are governed by our emotions, then this will be a short debate. Science and philosophy are pretty much on the same page when it comes to using emotions as a guide for our decisions. It's a bad idea to do so!!!! In fact, it may not be possible to make decisions or actions based solely on our emotions. Lets say I come home one day to find my house engulfed in flames, my instincts tell me that it's not going to be a pleasant experience if I go into my house, that emotion in this circumstance would be considered " self preservation". However, I have kitties and I know that my life would be meaningless and empty without them (Ya, I'm only one cat shy of being a crazy cat lady). Now, I have two contrasting emotions to tassel with, and whether I choose to save my cats, or save myself, I will either be acting in contrast to my emotions of self preservation, or in contrast to my emotional attachment to my pretty kitties. Bottom line is, we are not governed by our emotions, we can and do act contrary to our emotions.

I would like to thank my opponent for an interesting debate and I look forward to the next round!
Debate Round No. 2


I fear that a huge portion of Con's argument is based on a complete misunderstanding of my point. I never said we can't control our impulses insofar as succumbing to their influence, I simply stated that we cannot dictate what impulses arise in our consciousness in the first place.

Further, I would agree that we do not ever "have control of our choice to act..." The reason most people believe in free will is because they feel as though they have the agency to act "reasonable, or impulsive." On the note of reason, I would ask Con what it means to act reasonable and where he/she gets the definition of reason from. I would ask why it is that he/she likes to act reasonably (or not) in given situations i.e. why is reason valued. Perhaps Con realizes their definition of reason grew out of unconscious processes. Perhaps, though, they feel that it is something they've honed over the years as a result of trial-and-error or learning from mistakes or anything along those lines. Still, I would ask what the genesis of those mistakes were, why Con considered them to be mistakes or learning experiences, and how he/she chose to apply the lessons learned to future behavior.

Ultimately, if Con is honest with his/herself, they will reach one of two related realizations, or both:
  1. Once they trace back far enough the source of their conscious desires, they will realize that they grew from unconscious processes over which they have no control. The only possible causes of Con not reaching this realization would be a failure to trace back his/her thoughts and desires to a significant starting point or simply being ignorant of the fact that, at some point, there was a starting point over which they had no control. As I don't think Con is a person who tends to be illogical or ignorant, I feel this is a valuable thought experiment
  2. Another option would be tracing desires and wants and impulses back to a combination of genetic predispositions and upbringing i.e. nature/nurture. Since it is universally accepted by scientists that all we are is a product of nature and nurture, I would hope Con realizes that he/she had absolutely no control over either of these aspects of their development
Though the philosophy community might be split among libertarians, compatibilists, and determinists, the scientific community is not.
  • "You,’ your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. Who you are is nothing but a pack of neurons … although we appear to have free will, in fact, our choices have already been predetermined for us and we cannot change that." - Francis Crick
  • "Take a moment to think about the context in which your next decision will occur: You did not pick your parents or the time and place of your birth. You didn't choose your gender or most of your life experiences. You had no control whatsoever over your genome or the development of your brain. And now your brain is making choices on the basis of preferences and beliefs that have been hammered into it over a lifetime - by your genes, your physical development since the moment you were conceived, and the interactions you have had with other people, events, and ideas. Where is the freedom in this? Yes, you are free to do what you want even now. But where did your desires come from?” - Sam Harris
  • "The experience of willing an act arises from interpreting one's thought as the cause of the act. Conscious will is thus experienced as a function of the priority, consistency, and exclusivity of the thought about the action. The thought must occur before the action, be consistent with the action, and not be accompanied by other causes. An experiment illustrating the role of priority found that people can arrive at the mistaken belief that they have intentionally caused an action that in fact they were forced to perform when they are simply led to think about the action just before its occurrence." - Wegner & Wheatly
  • "Our minds are designed to distort our perception of choice and that this distortion is an important feature (not simply a bug) of our cognitive machinery." - Michael Shermer
Take the following example from Scientific American:

At a restaurant recently I faced many temptations: a heavy stout beer, a buttery escargot appetizer, a marbled steak, cheesecake. The neural networks in my brain that have evolved to produce the emotion of hunger for sweet and fatty foods, which in our ancestral environment were both rare and sustaining, were firing away to get me to make those selections. In competition were signals from other neural networks that have evolved to make me care about my future health, in particular how I view my body image for status among males and appeal to females and how sluggish I feel after a rich meal and the amount of exercise I will need to counter it. In the end, I ordered a light beer, salmon and a salad with vinaigrette dressing and split a mildly rich chocolate cake with my companion. Was I free to make these choices? According to neuroscientist Sam Harris in his luminous new book Free Will (Free Press, 2012), I was not. “Free will is an illusion,” Harris writes. “Our wills are simply not of our own making.” Every step in the causal chain above is fully determined by forces and conditions not of my choosing, from my evolved taste preferences to my learned social status concerns—causal pathways laid down by my ancestors and parents, culture and society, peer groups and friends, mentors and teachers, and historical contingencies going all the way back to my birth and before. Neuroscience supports this belief. The late physiologist Benjamin Libet noted in EEG readings of subjects engaged in a task requiring them to press a button when they felt like it that half a second before the decision was consciously made the brain's motor cortex lit up. Research has extended the time between subcortical brain activation and conscious awareness to a full seven to 10 seconds. A new study found activity in a tiny clump of 256 neurons that enabled scientists to predict with 80 percent accuracy which choice a subject would make before the person himself knew. Very likely, just before I became consciously aware of my menu selections, part of my brain had already made those choices. “Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control,” Harris concludes. “We do not have the freedom we think we have.”

I would also urge you to read about experiments (e.g. where it is shown that scientific brain scanners are able to know what you decisions will be before you *think* you make them.

You bring up the example of the rock - I would be very curious how you associate standing still as a rock flies toward you with being rational. Nonetheless, if the event happens instantaneously before you are able to think, consider, ponder, debate, or analyze the situation, how can you consider it to be a free decision? I never said that one's body and mind are not in control of themselves or each other, I'm contending that given a particular situation (e.g. rock flying at face), one could not have willfully acted in another way.

Yes, I do argue that we have no control over our emotions, but no more or less than any other processes that govern our lives.

  • "Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.” - Arthur Schopenhauer
  • “You are not controlling the storm, and you are not lost in it. You are the storm...You can do what you decide to do — but you cannot decide what you will decide to do.” - Sam Harris
  • “We're a government that believes in everybody having the illusion of free will.” - Anthony Burgess

Have a great day!


I have to commend my opponent for quoting Anthony Burgess, (one of my faves) however I must point out that the quote was taken entirely out of context because it was more of a political message, and if you read between the lines of that particular quote you may come to the conclusion that it's a very libertarian point (clockwork orange had a libertarian message). Mr. Burgess was simply pointing out that governments like to make people feel like they have a say in how government is run and it is obvious that he doesn't believe people do have a real say, but that doesn't mean he felt that people couldn't or shouldn't have a say in governmental policy. It was more of an observation on how governments conduct themselves and less an argument against free will. Personally, if I were trying to make an argument against free will, Burgess would not make my shortlist of people to quote, but hey it's your argument and you have the free will to conduct it in your own manner!!!! (tee hee, tee hee)

It seems to me that my opponents argument is basically stating that since we cannot control the circumstances that surround us, then we must not have free will. I still have yet to read anything that convinces me that the process of observation, computation, and then ultimately reaction, does not belong solely to the beholder. I don't yet see any metaphysical evidence that shows me how or why the process from observation to reaction is not under our control. I disagree with my opponent that we cannot dictate what impulses arise in our consciousness. Perhaps we might not seem to be able to control our impulses, but it is us who put the information (emotion) in our brain that made us act impulsive to begin with. Lets say the rock I spoke about did indeed hit the newborn, then the emotions attached to the horrible event are stored in the childs brain for the child to reference in the future, and anytime the child encounters an event that seems similar to the child, then the child is reminded of the emotion he/she felt during the first incident, but the childs emotions are not what causes the child to react. It would be the choice of the child to act or react, or not act at all. It is us who does the work of observing, processing and storing the emotional information that we use in our everyday lives, but our emotions do not and cannot control us. Emotions are a complex system of synapses at work in conjunction with fluids being sent throughout the body, it's nothing more than our sense of touch, but we tend to attach pleasant or unpleasant or neutral additudes on those emotions, but those emotions cannot control whether we want to run in terror, or just sit and do nothing. Higher self awareness is not just something you read about in those creepy church pamphlets about how the world is going to end tomorrow, it's a legitimate psychological theory, and it deals with the idea that just the fact that we realize our emotions do not control us, may help us to have a better understanding of ourselves as individuals. If you find the time to read up on it, give it a looksey, it's an interesting topic!

My opponent asks what I think it means to act reasonably. I guess I have to admit that I didn't have a particular definition in mind when I used the word. I guess I would reason that reason can only take place with time, the more time we have to make "logical" decisions based off of observation, the more "reasonable" a choice may seem to be. Of course what one might consider to be reasonable, others may not, the reasonable or logical decisions pertain only to ones self. My opponent asks why I like to act reasonably or not and why is reason valued. That's a tough one to answer because I don't value reason over impulse or vice versa. I have my own emotional reference table, based off of situations and observations unique to me so far as I can see, and it was I who did the work of enduring the circumstances that created those emotions and it was I who stored the information and I am the one who can use the information if I choose to do so. If I were to endure a situation unlike any I've ever had, it will be me who will choose to act reasonably or impulsively or irrationally or do nothing.

Thank You, and have a FABULOUS day!!!
Debate Round No. 3


Thanks for this. Let's go step-by-step:

"I must point out that the quote was taken entirely out of context."

I have read the book this comes from, The Wanting Seed. I do not at all believe the quote was taken out of context. If you would like to argue it does, please provide hard evidence beyond mere conjecture requiring our readers "read between the lines".

"if I were trying to make an argument against free will, Burgess would not make my shortlist of people to quote"

Who would make that list?

"I don't yet see any metaphysical evidence that shows me how or why the process from observation to reaction is not under our control"

What proven, empirical, scientific evidence do you see that shows the "process from observation to reaction" is irrefutably under our control? If you are going to purport that humans have a certain superpower not held by any other animal despite the sharing of a huge majority of DNA, especially with our closest ancestors, and absent the classic "common sense" / "I feel like I have a free will" argument, I feel you should be required to demonstrate as such.

"the emotions attached to the horrible event are stored in the child's brain for the child to reference in the future,"

By any logical stretch, this point proves my side of the argument rather than your own. The newborn doesn't, on their own volition, decide to store information surrounding the experience in their memory. The rock experience is recorded in the newborn's neural pathways (and perhaps Bayesian mind) where information is stored that can be accessed in the future. This information includes data on the color, shape, texture, and weight of the rock as well as the speed with which it hit them, the feeling on the moment of impact, and, of course, the accompanying pain. This information is encoded in the memory and grouped with any other past or future experiences with objects of similar nature in similar situations. As the newborn develops, their brain will be able to instinctively react to future rocks. This is where instincts (innate, typically fixed patterns of behavior in animals in response to certain stimuli, absent agency) come from.

Even if you tried to argue that the newborn does, in some way, have control over the information and/or emotion encoded in its memory from an experience like this, how does the newborn decide what information to store? How does the newborn even decide it was a positive or negative experience? How does the newborn make the judgment that pain is better than pleasure (or vice versa)? How does the newborn file away this experience for future recall along with "rocks" as opposed to "elephants", "space ships", or "chair lifts"? I don't think any logical person, remotely familiar with neurophysiology or psychology would claim these things were willed by conscious agency.

"Emotions are a complex system of synapses at work in conjunction with fluids being sent throughout the body, it's nothing more than our sense of touch, but we tend to attach pleasant or unpleasant or neutral attitudes on those emotions,"

Shockingly, you're again proving my point. Emotions are purely physiological. When people feel they are being influenced by emotions, or tapping into them, they are simply reacting in a purely mechanical way to stimuli.

"It deals with the idea that just the fact that we realize our emotions do not control us, may help us to have a better understanding of ourselves as individuals. If you find the time to read up on it, give it a looksey, "

It is funny that you cite this article regarding self-awareness as some sort of proof of free will, when it starkly contradicts your rock/newborn example vis-a-vis its developmental timeline. Interesting? Sure. Proof that all it describes is not a complex illusion? Not remotely.

"Of course what one might consider to be reasonable, others may not, the reasonable or logical decisions pertain only to ones self."

I could not agree more and wish others on this forum would concur.

"I have my own emotional reference table, based off of situations and observations unique to me so far as I can see"

I agree here, but I would ask: "by what token of free will have you consciousness authored the way in which your emotional reference table was formed and formatted?" Was it it shaped by a rock experience when you were a newborn? Unless you possessed telekinetic powers as a child, the rock hurling toward you was unlikely to have been doing so as a result if your own volition. Your reaction and subsequent storage of information, memory, and experience, were equally not of your own volition.
Any close, or even cursory, exploration of one's consciousness and self experience should reveal the free will is but a mere illusion. You have no more control over the next word that comes out of your mouth/keyboard as you do mine. You cannot be the author of your own conscious desires and, though you can sometimes decide what you are going to do, you can never decide what you will decide you will do. "A puppet is free so long as he loves his strings."

Thank you.


Perhaps every emotion you have ever had, could conceivably have been placed their by you. Induced by a past emotion because of what's happening to you right now. What's happening now, reminds you of a past situation, and the emotions that were tied to that situation. Whether you remember the situation or not, the emotional imprint remains with you, and can greatly effect how you act now. What memories are affecting your emotions at this very moment? Why did you remember the situations that are tied to your current emotions? If another random person were to go through the entire sequence of events that made up your entire life, in the exact same order, would they remember all the events that are influencing your mood right now? What have you forgotten, why did you forget it? What would the random person who is going through your sequence of events have forgotten by the time they reached this moment? Would they have the same exact emotions that you have right now? Would their emotions influence them to make the exact same decision that you will make? If you were severely assaulted by a large rock all up in your grill, it's going to make a large impact on your memory, but what about the neutral situations? My opponent agrees with me that "what one might consider to be reasonable, others may not, the reasonable or logical decisions pertain only to ones self". What situations you've decided to remember, and the ones you may have forgotten, or even the ones you've decided to not give a second thought and forget altogether, were the logical memories you've decided on that pertains to you. The emotions attached to your specific memory set, may influence your impulses, desires, anguish, or joy. My opponent has failed to convince me that the entire process that is influencing your mood right now, is or ever has been outside of your free will. Your free will appears in the memories you've decided store, which are influencing your mood right now!

My opponent claims that "you can never decide what you will decide what you will do". Does anyone else find that statement to be superfluous or redundant? Of course you can't decide what you will decide, you would need to know the future! That, coupled with the fact that in the very sentence before, he/she claims "you can sometimes DECIDE what you are going to do". If you can decide what you are going to do, is that decision not free will? I think my opponent may have a misconception of time. NOW is the only time that exists! Now was the only time that has ever existed, and now is the only time that ever will exist. The past is an illusion caused by our memories. The future is just of an idea of what we think may happen next and of course it never does go the way we think. On a mathematical basis, time is the same phenomenon as distance, nothing more! Our sight must travel a distance to reach and perceive an object, or thing. That is what gives us the illusion that time is a rapidly changing sequence of events. My opponents claim that "you can never decide what you will decide" is based on an illusionary concept of time because you would need to know the future to do that, and the future isn't real!

"CHOICE!!!! The boy has no real choice, has he? Self interest, fear of physical pain drove him to that grotesque act of self abasment. Its insincerity was clear to be seen. He ceases also to be a creature capable of moral choice".-----So said the priest in one of my favorite novels/movies, a clockwork orange. Anthony Burgess was a firm believer of free will. Lets say, all sin were made illegal, would that make everyone saint? The point Anthony Burgess was trying to make was, if society is forced to abide by moral standards, does that actually make it a moral society? For a criminal to truly pay back there debt to society, first they must agree to abide by moral standards by CHOICE, not out of fear of punishment, and we can not force that choice on them. Clockwork Orange was a loud statement of free will. I most certainly stand by my claim that Anthony Burgess is not the best person to quote, to make an argument against free will!!!!

My opponents argument is based on NOTHING!!!!!!!
Neil DeGrasse Tyson and many others believe that early man(circa 50,000 years ago), probably thought the sky was made up of messages sent by thier gods! And how can we blame them, what tools could they have used to know otherwise? And what was beyond the stars, beyond the ever turning message board?..................Nothing! Until of course, we created telescopes to see that those messages were actually other planets, places we could conceivably visit. Then of course, we discovered the solar system, then the galaxy, then the universe, then yadda yadda, and what lies out beyond our universe?..................Nothing! In other spectrums of math and science, there's alot of "nothing", they even gave it its own number. Eighty-five percent of the universe is nothing. Ninety five percent of physicists believe the big-bang is a proven "theory", which means everything was created out of, or from nothing. Perhaps my opponent is correct when he/she claims that our "conscious self" comes from nothing. All we "are" is a pack of neurons. Maybe, the place or thing that our decision making comes from is nothing, but does that constitute as a proof of his proposal? What is that nothing he/she speaks of? Is it not just the "great unknown? Is it actually nothing, or is it just beyond the scope of our senses? Neil DeGrasse Tyson points out that, beyond the scope of what our senses can perceive, you always find nothing, until of course you create the tools to see closer, or deeper into that "nothing", only to find it was not even close to nothing. The pattern always remains the same, we will continually see further and deeper into the nothing. Who's to say that we can't conceivably create the tools to look into what my opponent calls "nothing"? Perhaps our computational skill can create an extra sense for us to be able to perceive our existence in ways we never imagined. All the better to cast light into the nothingness. Personally, I don't consider "nothing" to be proof of anything, let alone proof that free will is an illusion, his claim that our free will comes from nothing, however right or wrong it may be, it does not constitute as a proof of his proposal. His argument is based on NOTHING!!!!

I must also point out that my opponent was very "willy-nilly" on whether he/she was making the argument that free will is merely outside of our control, or whether our entire life is predetermined! There's an obviously vast difference between the two. Yes, if our will is predetermined, we don't have free will, but if our life is an ever moving process of random events that we or anything has no control of, it's NOT predetermined. He/she aimlessly argues for one, or the other, or both, or whatever target his/her "shot in the dark" argument can hit. Perhaps not making much of the argument up from random quotes by people who may or may not agree with his/her thesis, would have helped to clarify his/her argument!

Thanks for reading!
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
RFD, Pt. 1:
I feel like this entire debate circles around the topic without ever really engaging with it. I never get a clear definition for what free will is. Is it an action or a thought? Is it juxtaposed with determinism or not? There is some discussion over this, but more glaring is the lack of definition for what an illusion is. I don"t mean "what is the definition of illusion?" but rather, to whom is the illusion being projected? Is the idea that people are under some false mentality that they have free will, and if so, what does that illusion look like? What needs to be proven to dispel it? I feel like answering these questions would have clarified a lot of this debate, mainly because I"m not sure what the burden of proof is. The topic asserts that there is a nebulous concept of free will and an illusion pertaining to its existence. Pro does not thing to explain either of those, and Con does little more than question whether Pro has met a nebulous burden pertaining to what free will is. As I see it, neither of you addressed the topic.

But there is still a debate to be had here, so I"ll do my best to work with what each of you have given me.

Pro spends most of the debate talking about where thought derives from a physical perspective, i.e. how does our brain process information and is there really a choice involved in what it spits out? The idea is that every thought and resultant action is built into us, whether by nature or nurture, and that whatever choices we make are, essentially, pre-programmed. Based on this argument, theoretically, if we had all the data as to what makes up a person and their experiences, we could determine precisely what they would do in any given situation because those choices are simply a result of a collection of data rather than an individual decision.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
Pt. 2:
This does push back on a concept of free will and given that I don"t really have any other conception of free will to work with (Con does eventually talk about general pre-determinism, though by then the debate is clear enough that I think this is a distraction), I go with this as a basis for evaluating the debate.

Pro makes some solid points in pursuit of this argument, though I think he leaves some rather large and glaring holes. The largest problem is that he"s set for himself a rather large burden: to show that free will is entirely illusory (i.e. it basically doesn"t exist). That"s the burden I"m holding him to, and I think he provides a lot of easy avenues for attack on this. His R3 argument included a source that shows that the choice of a subject could be predicted with 80% accuracy. Why is this not 100%? That seems to suggest that the physical element can predict most choices (I"ll presume that this applies to a wide variety of decisions), but not all. Maybe other neurons are involved in other people, or maybe the machines weren"t sensitive enough to detect this, but this certainly seems to suggest that we don"t understand the process of decision-making as cleanly as Pro asserts we do. And this pulls back to a larger issue I have with his argument, which is that simply understanding neurophysiology tells us that we don"t have free will. He seems to be asserting that we understand how a thought or choice comes to be with so much certainty that free will cannot be supported, and a lot of this is based in what comes first, i.e. we know that there is a physical element that kicks off the conception of a choice, so the choice itself must be pre-determined.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
Pt. 3:
That sounds pretty fallacious to me, and presumptuous. We may understand much of the chemical signaling involved in the process for initiating a thought, but there"s still a lot we don"t understand about how a thought is generated. The physical aspect undercuts the idea that we are entirely capable of making any decision at any time, but you"re arguing against all of free will, all of choice, based entirely on the fact that there are chemical signals and experiences that play a huge role in how those choices are made. Accepting that argument doesn"t mean I vote Pro, it just means I"m inclined against free will being involved in most of the decisions we make. Complex decisions, particularly those that may induce a cacophony of chemical signals and result from competing experiences, are almost certainly not so easy to predict.
I think this was a pretty sizeable hole for Con to work with, though I don"t see him exploiting it. Instead, Con argument seems to repeatedly fall in line with Pro"s, and I don"t see him providing a means why which free will is exploited that is separate from the physical signals Pro cites. Con keeps saying that this is under our control, but when he tries to explain how, he talks about a collection of experiences, emotions and inborn traits that influence them, all of which Pro uses to push back on free will as a concept. Perhaps the idea was that free will is simply the ability to make a choice that runs counter to what would be seen as common wisdom, but it"s not at all clear how that definition works or why I should favor it. It certainly doesn"t sound like free will. The rest of Con"s responses are mainly a set of questions that appear in the final round, many of which might have been good points of discussion earlier on, but they come too late. Con is correct that Pro does an incomplete job of proving his point, but it"s not based on nothing as he asserts.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
Pt. 4:
It"s based on the idea that our thoughts are controlled by aspects of ourselves that are not themselves controlled by us, and he provides support for that. Sure, sometimes the statements are a little convoluted, but I get the general gist: no thought comes about on its own, ergo it is, at least in some ways, controlled. Whether the physical aspects that gave rise to that thought also entirely control what the thought is has some merit as a point of contention, but I don"t see that coming through in Con"s argument. Simply siting Anthony Burgess isn"t a point of proof on this. Con seems to skirt around a stronger argument by purporting that there"s something unknown, imperceptible thing involved in the process of developing a thought, but it comes far too late and seems to be more of a rant than a winning argument.

So, while I don"t think Pro did a complete job supporting the resolution, I don"t see enough of a challenge from Con to really do damage to Pro"s position in the debate. Scientific literature is not completely aligned against free will, as Pro insinuates, so there were options to explore the science behind it here. There was also the option of taking a step back from hard data and focusing on the philosophical arguments supporting free will. I don"t see Con taking either tack (at least not hard enough to make a dent in Pro"s arguments), so I vote Pro.
Posted by canis 3 years ago
In that case it is not an illusion.. Just 2 words..
Posted by canis 3 years ago
I have free will..An unfree will is an illusion.. Unless "free will" has nothing to do with "I"..
Posted by BertrandsTeapot 3 years ago
Thanks @backwardseden. However, I don't think you need to believe in god to see that free will is nothing more than illusory at best.
Posted by backwardseden 3 years ago
Very true.Especially if you believe in god, in which nobody can prove exists, free will does not exist.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by RMTheSupreme 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I am very biased on this topic, I am a hardline determinist who believes in a random number generator being the true god that dictates reality. I have tried my level best to remain unbiased in voting but it is very difficult to because to me the debate is a truism... A fact, if you will. The only thing Pro failed to do for the optimal strategy here is to prove that the default thing to assume is that we are not in control but that the environment controls us. Con never did prove that we control ourselves but it was clear by the last Round that Con (like all free-will advocates) believes that the default assumption is that the controller of our impulses and our reaction to said impulses is 'us'. Pro sidesteps this but didn't have to. You can win this debate head-on in a more aggressive manner as Pro by actively proving that emotions and reactions to emotions are all neurological and that substances influence us a lot. Con never did prove that we 'put the impulses there' so Pro met BoP.

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