Debate: Free Will V. Determinism

2 years, 11 months ago

A topic anyone who mingles here will no doubt have experience with, I ask you to revisit this battleground to hash out your argument for free will, determinism, or the crossbreeds thereof (if you are going to go with one of the lesser known hybrids/independents, please define it for those who are not away of its stance).

May 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm

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Profile photo of Deepak Deepak (@deepak87) 2 years, 7 months ago ago

The one ultimate stopper for analysis of any sort is ‘INFINITY’. When something is infinite, thinking/analysis as a goal oriented activity suddenly loses all relevancy.

If I tell you, there is an extremely complex system, if you believe that you can understand it, then you proceed to study, think, ponder, explore, question etc.

But if I tell you that there is a system that is infinitely complex, where would you start?, what would you analyze?, what beliefs are you going to have? How far would you analyze? What is the purpose of your analysis?

Its starts to get more introspective/subjective after that. Does it matter if reality was objectively based on free will or determinism beyond my beliefs about it? Aren’t the rest of the factors just stories we are telling ourselves? Is the story we tell ourselves/perception what ultimately matters?

Another issue this question reminds me of is ‘final causation’. What is the final cause of things? It’s unknown. If you ask a child ‘why does a bird have wings?’ It will say ‘To fly’. If the child gets older and studies evolution, it may come up with a longer explanation about how birds evolved into having wings, hollow bones etc. But persist with the ‘why’ question and an unknown is reached. The complicated thread of story is so tightly tied, it seems so convincing. But if you go on excavating with the ‘why’ question a final cause is not found.

As someone mentioned in the thread, who or what is the thinker of thoughts? is a conundrum. The other one is ‘Is there any real doer of actions?’.

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Profile photo of Daniel Daniel (@meta) 2 years, 7 months ago ago

From a purely metaphysical perspective, if there is not total free will in one’s actions then one ceases to exist and the argument becomes entirely unimportant. This would be comparable to a robot who was programed to complete a specific task and nothing else. The robot doesn’t actually have an identity, it is simply a tool, a catalyst of sorts, by which other things are accomplished.

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Profile photo of Han Han (@infidel) 2 years, 5 months ago ago

So I haven’t read the whole thread, I’m just new here and want to talk about awesome things!

Here’s what I think; Free will is mostly an illusion, determinism is what is true, BUT we need to keep living AS THOUGH free will is a thing, because the IDEA that we can control our selves will lead to positive differences in behaviour, even if we don’t actually control those differences.

But there is a way in which admitting determinism can also help people, as articulated by Sam Harris; the same way that we do not feel rage, or prolonged bitterness or the need for vengeance if, say, our homes are destroyed by a hurricane, or if a loved one is killed by a lightning strike, so we should feel about crimes that are inflicted by other people. I think this change in perception; realising that people are ultimately as much in control of their actions as the weather is for its actions (that is to say, not at all), will lead to a lot less bitterness and hate in the world, and a lot more healthy psyches.

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