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Thread: Free will from a scientific perspective/ yes or no?

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    Free will from a scientific perspective/ yes or no?

    When I was very young (around 20) I didn't believe in free will.

    But, as I got older, I slowly began to believe in free will as I studied health and made significant changes in my life.

    Lots of health books now say that we are not controlled by our genes, we control our genes by what we do. That's free will.

    The biggest change I made was when I stopped smoking at age 30 after making four or five attempts.

    But now I realize there are physicists who believe our brains are nothing more than a mass of particles that behave predictably according to physical law.

    I would still like to believe in free will but this makes me wonder.


    What do you believe from a scientific perspective?
    Last edited by Fall River; 09-18-2021 at 03:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fall River View Post
    When I was very young (around 20) I didn't believe in free will.

    But, as I got older, I slowly began to believe in free will as I studied health and made significant changes in my life.

    Lots of health books now say that we are not controlled by our genes, we control our genes by what we do. That's free will.

    The biggest change I made was when I stopped smoking at age 30 after making four or five attempts.

    But now I realize there are physicists who believe our brains are nothing more than a mass of particles that behave predictably according to physical law.

    I would still like to believe in free will but this makes me wonder.


    What do you believe from a scientific perspective?
    I've believed in determinism for a while. That being said, I also love time travel movies, and they have a way of messing with determinism :-p. I like Wikipedia's definition of determinism:

    **
    Determinism is the philosophical view that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have sprung from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and considerations. The opposite of determinism is some kind of indeterminism (otherwise called nondeterminism) or randomness. Determinism is often contrasted with free will, although some philosophers claim that the two are compatible.[1][2]
    **

    So apparently there may be a way that the two philosophies are compatible. My primary issues with determinism is that the nature of time is still not very well understood. As one of the links from Wikipedia's article states:
    "Determinism is the idea that everything that happens in the world is determined completely by previously existing causes. "

    Source:
    https://conceptually.org/concepts/determinism


    By the way, that link is one of the articles that wikipedia states found a possible way to unite free will and determinism.

    But what if future events could somehow effect past events? All those sci fi time travel movies can't be wrong, surely :-p. So perhaps determinism exists, but a more non linear one.

    And perhaps most importantly, if we -knew- what we were going to do, we could not do it. So clearly the only way determinism can possibly work is if it's hidden from view -or- if we agree to follow a set path.
    "Trust those who seek the truth, doubt those who find it."

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    It seems to me that "free will" is a tricky topic because it often doesn't really have a firm definition.

    For example, say you pick tea over coffee with breakfast. Why did you make that choice? Was there a reason behind it? Did something cause it?
    There are really only two possibilities here:

    A) You DID have a reason for picking tea. Maybe you like the taste, maybe you can't afford the fancy coffee, maybe tea is all they had...whatever. The point is, you picked tea because of that reason, so that reason (combined with the absence of stronger, opposing reasons) was the cause of the choice. Ergo: The choice was an effect of pre-existing causes and determined by them. That's determinism.

    B) You did NOT have a reason for picking tea. I.E. You did it for no reason, it just happened without anything causing it to happen. That's just randomness.

    People sometimes try to claiming that "making a free choice" is somehow a third possibility, but that just begs the question "Did you have a reason for making that choice instead of a different one?" That, of course, just puts us right back to the two alternatives of determinism (you did have a reason) and randomness (you did not).

    So I'm inclined to think that, if "free will" means anything at all, it must be consistent with a [mostly] deterministic universe. Maybe we could say your choices are "free" to the extent that they are determined by the factors of your personal makeup of which you are consciously aware?
    Last edited by Prof. Dilettante; 09-18-2021 at 07:28 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fall River View Post
    When I was very young (around 20) I didn't believe in free will.

    But, as I got older, I slowly began to believe in free will as I studied health and made significant changes in my life.

    Lots of health books now say that we are not controlled by our genes, we control our genes by what we do. That's free will.

    The biggest change I made was when I stopped smoking at age 30 after making four or five attempts.

    But now I realize there are physicists who believe our brains are nothing more than a mass of particles that behave predictably according to physical law.

    I would still like to believe in free will but this makes me wonder.


    What do you believe from a scientific perspective?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fall River View Post
    When I was very young (around 20) I didn't believe in free will.

    But, as I got older, I slowly began to believe in free will as I studied health and made significant changes in my life.

    Lots of health books now say that we are not controlled by our genes, we control our genes by what we do. That's free will.

    The biggest change I made was when I stopped smoking at age 30 after making four or five attempts.

    But now I realize there are physicists who believe our brains are nothing more than a mass of particles that behave predictably according to physical law.

    I would still like to believe in free will but this makes me wonder.


    What do you believe from a scientific perspective?
    I have always believed in free will and still do but I do believe there are limits on how free our will really is. Lots about us is the basis of chemical reactions in our brains. Where one ends and the other begins is a complex question for science or even religion.
    I beleive genetics sets our range, nurture predicts where our personality and behaviors fall within that range and then there is our random influences like friends and teachers and odd circumstances
    For example there are people born and or born and raised devoid of empathy, others who would never be able to drink or drug "like a gentleman" . But at least they can still choose sobriety.

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    The one who acts upon his free will and whose actions are congruent with the needs of the universe, the universe pregnant with the next phase of humanity (in a little or large context), will control the events with the ease of exercising his little finger. The world around him will appear to bend to his will. But it is only moving as it must, as God plans it to move, but needs for its universal destiny to be pushed with that little finger of a man whose particular and individual needs- selfish needs even- are congruent with the needs of that emerging birth that the world must deliver.


    This is how I understand Hegelian philosophy of history. I have extended this philosophy to where I see it action at all levels... at the level of world history and at the level of one's individual life.
    Last edited by Call_me_Ishmael; 09-18-2021 at 07:44 PM.


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    First I believe we need to start with a definition of Free Will. How about this one: The ability to make an unrestrained, free, decision between two or more alternatives.

    Does Rutabaga get to decided to do what he wants to, or is what he does predetermined and him having no real choice he only thinks he is doing what he wants? Was Prof. Dilettante's choice between coffee and tea his choice or the universe's choice?

    I think the gist of the OP is asking, is free will just an illusion? Prof. dilettante picks coffee and will say he could have picked tea but decided not to, thus making a free will decision. But if it is pre-determined that he will pick coffee then he didn't have free will it was pre-determined that he always picked coffee.

    Much like a movie script, actors do not determine anything it is all in accordance with the script.

    Too me that makes life meaningless. It would mean that nothing we do means anything.

    So for me free will is real. The decisions we make may be influenced by our genes or DNA upbringing or whatever, just like Prof. Dilettante personally likes coffee but he picked tea because he knew the coffee was bitter.

    In reality we choose to do good or do evil, have coffee or tea. We can only do good or evil because of free will. Without free will there would be no evil and gosh I think there is a whole lot of evil out there.

    Pre-determination seems to me to be a religious concept more so then secular. I look at pre-determination like watching a VHS tape of Super Bowl 10. I can tell you exactly what is going to happen before you see it on the VHS tape, but in so doing the decisions made in the game were free will.
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