The Concept of Free Will is and Illusion

October 3, 2019, 3:46 am

Agree34 Disagree27

56%
44%

The debate "The Concept of Free Will is and Illusion" was started by TheExistentialist on October 3, 2019, 3:46 am. 34 people are on the agree side of this discussion, while 27 people are on the disagree side. That might be enough to see the common perception. It looks like most of the people in this community are on the agreeing side of this statement.

JDAWG9693 posted 1 argument, TheExistentialist posted 4 arguments, Allirix posted 2 arguments to the agreers part.
marky posted 2 arguments to the disagreers part.

TheExistentialist, JDAWG9693, Harmony, Allirix, Shrivali_16, Lind and 28 visitors agree.
haphil1992, marky, Levanto and 24 visitors disagree.

Allirix
replied to...

Believing you have free will is the reason it's an illusion. I believe I have free will, but I also believe it's an illusion.

3 days, 16 hours ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

Well; generally speaking this is a debate platform. meaning that you're supposed to support your points of view so others can argue them. I'd say you'd be well served reading through some of the threads on here to kind of get a flow of how topics are addressed and opinions developed and picked apart.

I'd say that before you came to this topic you didn't have a way to articulate your reasoning for free will and therefore didn't have the option to articulate it. Perhaps now that you've read some sections of this argument you are free to do so....hence soft determinism in practice ;)

4 days, 7 hours ago
marky
replied to...

not one in particular, nothing stops me from commenting here.

4 days, 9 hours ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

What's your reasoning?

4 days, 16 hours ago

hmm... I believe i have free will.

4 days, 17 hours ago
TheExistentialist
replied to...

I think the most practical way to look at free will is in terms of "Soft Determinism". Meaning that we have a limited amount of free will. Even if we don't fully understand the limits of our "free will" we can still make use of our understanding of human development. In a practical sense, I think we can add this concept to our justice system. Knowing that options and decision making is limited by environmental, psychological, and experiential factors should be limiting factors in culpability to some extent.

Understanding a teenager, who grew up in poverty, was abused, etc... and engaged in a physical altercation, is not going to benefit from incarceration but would benefit from in-patient treatment with specialists that can help them with decision making "crutches" that can help them overcome their "short-comings".

This does bring into question the concept of the Christian version of free will however. It means we are not all equally capable of making the "right choice", or the "good choice".

5 days, 16 hours ago
Allirix
replied to...

Brilliant synopsis as always!

I think the evidence for a powerful unconscious mind and biological/societal determinism show we have limited freedom, but not no freedom. Those restrictions add to the list we intuit, with gravity and other basic laws of physics. You wouldn’t believe we have no freedom because your will to fly is limited by gravity. In the same sense, a determined and powerful unconscious mind that limits the range of choices in the conscious mind doesn't necessarily restrict it to one choice.

What I believe is this: until we understand those forces well enough to predict behavior reliably and beyond a reasonable doubt (95%+), free will pragmatically exists. Why? Because an illusion is real until dispelled.

Using the Christian God as an example, the default position is to not believe because He is outside our basic purview to sleep, hunt, eat, mate,.. . But, drop us into a culture that believes and the default position shifts to believing because believing is added to our purview. We may never experience His actual presence, He may not even exist, but we meaningfully experience Him nonetheless.

I see free will working the same way. Our society adopted a belief in free will because the forces that restrict it are outside our purview. It is the default position until we understand the restrictions well enough to add them by demonstrating predictive accuracy beyond a reasonable doubt. So I believe free will exists.

I believe it’s collective experience that makes illusory existence real. Not objectively real, but as real as anything else we “know”. I say this because I believe a subjective screen obscures objective reality. We test and prod reality understand it, but we only ever experience the shadow on the cave wall, not the object casting it.

6 days, 12 hours ago

There is quite a bit of scientific evidence for free will being an illusion or at the very least not being the kind of "free will" as we would use Colloquially.

In one study, for example, participants solved word puzzles in which the words were either associated with rudeness or politeness. Those exposed to rudeness words were much more likely to interrupt the experimenter in a subsequent part of the task. When debriefed, none of the subjects showed any awareness that the word puzzles had affected their behavior. That scenario is just one of many in which our decisions are directed by forces lurking beneath our awareness.

In another study undertaken by Adam Bear and Paul Bloom, of Yale University, the test subjects were shown five white circles on a computer monitor. They were told to choose one of the circles before one of them lit up red.

The participants were then asked to describe whether they’d picked the correct circle, another one, or if they hadn’t had time to actually pick one.

Statistically, people should have picked the right circle about one out of every five times. But they reported getting it right much more than 20 per cent of the time, going over 30 per cent if the circle turned red very quickly.

The scientists suggest that the findings show that the test subjects’ minds were swapping around the order of events, so that it appeared that they had chosen the right circle – even if they hadn’t actually had time to do so.

Statistical analysis of risk factors for things like drug abuse, domestic violence, etc... seem to also suggest that free-will is at the very least limited. It would seem that childhood exposure to certain stimuli severely limits our ability to make "good" choices. A 2015 study that examined the brains of 1,099 children and young adults found those who came from higher-income homes and had parents with higher educational attainment had larger surface areas in their brain, especially in the areas that control language and executive functioning, than their peers who were poorer and had less educated parents.

Such deterministic factors make it hard to say that we have true "free will".

1 week ago

I think it depends on how you define free will. Most people I've spoken to say free will is an illusion because the forces that determine our universe are well outside the human purview. The forces are so complex and microscopic that we'll never understand them in our lifetime, if ever. But because determining forces exist, our experience of freewill is false.

Whether the universe is determined or not though, because those forces are so far removed from our actual life, from a pragmatic perspective we have free will. It's like God. It's interesting to discuss, but essentially unfalsifiable (depending on your definition).

Sometimes we get glimpses at higher order forces that limit our freewill though. Memory suggestibility, Pavolvian conditioning, brain tumors creating serial killers, the cycle of abuse, etc are examples of a human will that's not entirely free. But I imagine it's essentially impossible to prove our brain has 0 degrees of freedom (which is my definition of no free will).

1 week, 3 days ago

What is your argument for the absence of freewill? (I agree, just wondering your reason)

1 week, 3 days ago
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