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Thread: Do we have free will?

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    Post Do we have free will?

    Recently I had to do a research paper for my psychology class on whether or not we have free will or if all actions comes as a result of heredity, environment, and/or brain chemistry. So what I what to know is if you think we have free will and if not why.

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    I believe we are 3/4 nature, 1/4 nurture. Still even nurture is hardly classified as free will, with peer pressure, traditions and law leading the prim. Maybe 1% of our choices could be considered free, but probably not completely, unless we were Kim Jong Il or other despot.

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    Define "free will" and then we'll talk. I am often discouraged from studying epistemology because the field is fraught with philosophers using different definitions of the same terms.

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    I am actually even more interested in the proof that there is no free will (particularly from such as evidence a very "free" (in a number of senses) understanding of the problem.(:=)))

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    sparky and razor here is a site that helpped with my reseach beta.in-mind.org/node/378
    LeBrok is it not true that genes are affected by the environment over a long period of time and in which case shouldn't it be leaning more to environment.

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    Forgot: If you can get ahold of Thomas Hill Green's "Prolegomena to Ethics" you'll find a lot of interesting answers to your questions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forgot View Post
    Recently I had to do a research paper for my psychology class on whether or not we have free will or if all actions comes as a result of heredity, environment, and/or brain chemistry. So what I what to know is if you think we have free will and if not why.
    I agree with @Sparkey that until we define what "free will" means we could be easily lost in so complex filosofical/psychological subject.

    I think that culture, education, heredity and general brain/body condition, which by the way summarizes in "personality traits", somehow propabilistically characterize many of the posible responses of a person in a given situation, when you view the thing from an statistical point of view.

    However, life is full of accidents that come continuously from the complex external system (environment) and also the internal system, being also complex, gives surprises from time to time.

    Altough it may be a vulgar example, remember that in many Western societies academical archivement only accounts for 20% of explanation for career success. We don't even agree what real "intelligence" ist.

    The account of the principal factors mentioned (heredity, culture and condition) could be useful for some degree of prediction of behaviour under ideal conditions.

    But the complexity of the interaction of the complex internal and external systems, will always result in something that, in Reality, could not be completedly determined by us, humans.

    Because we are not gods to see all that has been, or will be.

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    I will check it out if I get the chance thanks razor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forgot View Post
    sparky and razor here is a site that helpped with my reseach beta.in-mind.org/node/378
    LeBrok is it not true that genes are affected by the environment over a long period of time and in which case shouldn't it be leaning more to environment.
    I never said that genes are affected. I meant person as whole being a sum of nature and nurture. Environment doesn't effect genes as much as the rest of the body, especially the brain in humans. Knowledge will effect your actions, therefore your will.

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    Here is an example of free will:

    2+2=4 answer 4 is not free will, 4 is dictated by logic/physics ofuniverse/environment

    2+2=63 I could have picked any number to infinity, but by my free will I picked63


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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Here is an example of free will:

    2+2=4 answer 4 is not free will, 4 is dictated by logic/physics of universe/environment

    2+2=63 I could have picked any number to infinity, but by my free will I Picked 63
    I have to argue with my last point above. I gave a numeric answer to 2+2=equation, which denotes mathematical constraints of my answer. Of course any limitation will affect our choices, therefore encroach on our free will,rendering it not free completely.
    To be totally free we have to go beyond mathematics.

    Ask me 2+2 and I sing a song in response. Ask me 2+2 and I will ignore you with no answer.
    Now this is a true free will. 100% certified.


    What would be example of 100% lack of free will?


    1. We choose something that we can't control.
    I decided to stop my heart for 5 minutes.
    I made a choice but there is no action.


    2. Someone chooses for us and we follow without thinking.
    Mother tells you to eat sandwich, and you eat.
    There is an action without considering a choice.

    I think the last one will be the opposite. It's very robotic, computer like,it's told to do and never refuses.

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    Continuing the thought.
    The rest of our choices fall into a spectrum between 100% free will to 100% lacking it. Big majority of our choices is not black and white, it's a mixture of external/internal forcing mixed with our dilemma of choosing.

    Consider this:
    Nature, in form of hunger, forces you to eat (no choice). You automatically agree to eat, but decided to finish something first and eat in an hour (semi free choice). In an hour you go to the fridge to eat food (forced). In the fridge you see and apple and piece of chicken, and you decided to go for chicken (free will).

    I looked through some more examples and found some commonalities.
    We don't have a choice in most important part of our existence. Eating and what food to put in your mouth, sexual excitement, breathing, damage to once body, social behavior, etc. If you go against nature you will feel pain, if you do it right (the way nature intended) you are rewarded with pleasure. Our evolutionary ways, the ones that passed the test, are so strong that not much is left to choose, think about and let free will decide.

    The more free will in our choosing, the more inconsequential the dilemma is.
    You don't consider "to eat or not to eat" for a month, do you? If this is left to free will, and free will decides not to eat, the consequences are fatal. Nature found a way around it punishing you with stomach pain if you are stupid enough to think about this to long. Even trimming some food from our diet is painful and not easy choice to make, though everybody around plus science tells you that it's good for you.

    Analyzing this example and similar ones, one can conclude that free will long time ago (500 million, inception of nervous systems), was so rampant and not working very well, that nature found a better way showing living creatures what choice is the best. Nature implemented feelings and instincts, in form of pain and pleasure, one of the biggest invention in nature to protect you, and you, and you from choices of your free will.


    In the past, our ancestors had fewer free choices to make. If you were born farmer, you grew up to be a farmer, got arranged marriage, had as many kids as god willed, worked hard every day without vacation, and died in same village. Life full of choices, lol.
    Today's world is a new experience for human kind and happened so sudden that nature can't guide us anymore the right way.
    We eat too much, we don't know what carrier to choose, waste time trying to find the perfect spouse, choosing not to make kids,
    playing computer games all day instead, and taxing mindlessly about nothing.

    I hate to conclude this way, but isn't free will overrated and rather something to fear, like a knife in hands of a crazy drunk?

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    I hate to conclude this way, but isn't free will overrated and rather something to fear, like a knife in hands of a crazy drunk?
    You can always stop drinking (:=))

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    Quote Originally Posted by razor View Post
    You can always stop drinking (:=))
    Have you been to Indian Reserve? ;)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Have you been to Indian Reserve? ;)
    You mean those areas where the biggest act of free will is to set up a de-alcoholization clinic? (:=)))

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    Some of it is a bit daft but an interesting video none the less..

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    There is no free will in the literal sense, because each will has a reason.
    Example: My free will is to eat spaghetti now. The reason: Apetite.

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    I guess, at the end all comes down to making choices, some more some less influenced by environment, or your nature,...or maybe even luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by edao View Post
    Some of it is a bit daft but an interesting video none the less..
    Thanks, haven't seen this one yet. Great visuals and music, piece of art. I generally agree with these views, though I think they pushed too much at the end making some hypothesis into facts of reality.
    Great point is, which I am a fun of, that the best understanding of universe, together with our social life and behaviour of groups, is in statistics and probabilities. Without these we are lost in trappings of anecdotal stories.

    As I said about free will, it is best expressed in randomness of choices, because it shows it is unconstrained by environment. 100 %Free Will is not very "popular" in our livers, or not even necessary, therefore hard to prove.
    Funny thing is that this scientific program, though claiming that free will doesn't exist, is the proof that it does exist. This movie comes from a field of unrelated to common life thinking, from a realm of abstract and free will choices.

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    I shall now exercise my free will by discontinuing to talk about free will, freely, and willingly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by razor View Post
    You mean those areas where the biggest act of free will is to set up a de-alcoholization clinic? (:=)))
    Our natives or Australian aborigines are an excellent example how their evolutionary predisposition to hunter gatherer way of life is screwing and confusing them in modern world. They want to have all the goodies, live in peace and enjoy life the way we do, but they are not able to deliver it by themselves, even after couple hundreds of years of adaptation. It's not even all, because white man builds their homes, delivers food, and pays 20,000 per native a year, and in spite all of this many reserves don't look better than villages in Haiti. Yes, there are many that can adapt to new civilization, but big majority can't.
    On other hand we have Jews, that came here as emigrants without a language, and in face of all the difficulties placed by antisemitism, ending up on top of society after one generation. Yes, there are some that can't, but majority can.

    In both cases I don't think that free will have much to do how they live. It's more about their choices influenced by years of evolution in different environments. Jews come from long line of agriculturalism and 5 thousand years of city dwelling tribes. This is in high contrasts with pure hunter-gatherer of prairies and Australia.

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