Are you an atheist who belives in freewill. Or are you long past believing in the concept of freewill? I cannot imagine being a non-theist and still believing in freewill so I am curious how you feel about the concept.

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After reading the above posts, I think I'd just like to say that I don't see free will as a philosophical question.  Rather I see it as a question for chemical and physical law.  If there is no place in the human mind that can escape the laws of chemistry and quantum whatever - then everything that happens within our mind is not of any control.   It is impossible for any agency to exist regardless of appearances. 

 

What we consider consciousness would be merely the output from an organic computer, wired and programmed by evolution.  

 

As for the punishment question,  I feel that in regards to criminals,  we must understand they are not evil, but merely big fleshy products of a robotic existence.  That said they can either be rehabilitated or destroyed. 

"What we consider consciousness would be merely the output from an organic computer, wired and programmed by evolution."

 

That's just a form of reductionism.  It's akin to saying that a cat isn't really a cat; it's just a collection of atoms.

Yeah but I think that's the level at which we need to think about consciousness if we're going to talk about free will.    If you want to understand how a cat works, you do need to see it as a collection of atoms.
If you want to understand how a cat works, you do need to see it as a collection of atoms.

... and as a collection of molecules and as a collection of organelles and as a collection of cells and as a collection of organs and as a collection of organ systems and as an individual animal and as a part of a breed and as a part of a species and as a part of a genus and as a part of a family and as a part of an order and as a part of a class and as a port of life and as a part of the planet and as a part of the solar system and as a mart of the galaxy and as a part of a galaxy cluster and as a part of the universe.

I'm sure I missed out on some steps. It's all connected if you chose to take it that far. Really though, I'd wager that a veterinarian or a zoologist has, on the whole, a much better understanding of cats than atomic physicists, yet doesn't spend a whole lot of time examining their atomic structure on a routine basis.

That's all beside the point though. No matter what level you choose to look at it, it's still a cat. Looking at it in a reductionist light doesn't change that. In a similar sense, why should consciousness be diminished just because it's the product of an 'organic computer'? I won't acknowledge that it is "programmed by evolution"; evolution is a process that happens, not an entity which commits acts. It doesn't program anything. It doesn't have a will. That may seem like nitpicking words, but it's not an insignificant distinction in this context. Evolution is not a force placing constraints our species.
I whole-heartedly agree with you Kris. You may nitpick my words as much as you feel necessary.
"why should consciousness be diminished just because it's the product of an 'organic computer'? "

The Universe has a state which represents the exact arrangement of its constituents (whatever these may be). This state + randomness completely determines the immediately next state the Universe will have. To say anything else would be mathematical (not just physical) lunacy. Considering this, I could not believe in our power to overcome the laws of physics, which, by definition, completely govern us.

Now, I know most sane people wouldn't claim we aren't subject to the laws of physics, so what's all this fuss about? I am yet to hear a clear definition of free will, even though I've asked for it numerous times. It's either me who's not getting it or people don't want to accept that we are made of particles whose future states are completely determined by their present state + possibly randomness. If this free will is something that is not esoteric enough to escape the laws of physics, and ultimately mathematics, then what is it and why is it so important for rational people?

 

However, that being said, consciousness, whatever it may be, is completely real (at least for me it is, you damn philosopher's zombies) and all those qualia that baffle me are real. Therefore there is meaning, even though on a fundamental level we aren't in control. In my opinion, the fact that we can feel love, friendship, hope, joy and so on, is something of the greatest importance, regardless of the fact the current state of the Universe determines its future states.

I will use Bob Arctor, Keanu Reeves rotoscoped alter ego in A Scanner Darkly (2006) from PKD's A Scanner Darkly (1977).

 

Bob Arctor is a free agent - he is in fact the freest agent in his environment. You could say that if Arctor did not actually, really, truly, positively have free will (what ever we can agree this to mean) he had 'the kind of free will he could use'. Meaning - he had something that, in the limit, approached our maximum or upper limit of what we have both agreed is free will.

 

Both LaPlace's Daemon and Maxwell's Daemon will represent the two agents (imaginary agents admittadly) that possess what we will agree to is a measurable or weighable or durative or in anyway making a material impact on the universe since we are monists, rationalist, skeptics, doubters, peer reviewers, furious bloggers etc. etc. and we can eventually decide a very important question.

 

My question is: Can you express free will in multiples of Plancks Length, the smallest 'allowable' space-time area allowed in this universe. Planck's Constant gives us the Planck length which you can think of as the opening in a net that holds up this universe. Your measured quantity of free will cannot get smaller than this. How big is your free will particle - it must be larger than this?

 

How big is free will. In the 13.72 B years, when did free will emerge from star stuff and planet stuff and biological stuff? Was it last Thursday? Could we measure the effects of free will on black holes? is free will encoded in Hawking Radiation?

 

Or maybe evolutionary biology explains free will. But you would be wrong. Or chemistry, or fishing for trout or panning for gold or commenting on blogs. B.F. Skinner fail.

 

Or is it possible that this is a remnant of rampant dualism in an atheist? Do you really want to go back to having a free 'little you' in the cockpit that talks to Zeus? That is called Casper.

I heard that the free will particle is the decidetron and it's the only particle which can choose how to act and thus influence other particles by interacting with them anyway it wants.

I bet our brains are filled with this kind of particles and that's where free will emerges. All we have to do now is wait for the guys from LHC to discover this particle.

explain to me, in terms of physics, exactly what consciousness is and how it works.
Free will doesn't exists.  Atheist that don't understand or know about evolution might still believe in free will, but it does not exists.  Really, it doesn't exists in anyway and can't possibly because that isn't how the brain works.  Our behavior is dictated by biology, physics, etc.  Much of our behavior is driven by our subconscious.  Our sense of being human and feeling like a singular unit is an illusion.

Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker on Free Will

 

http://youtu.be/8LE4uu49SU8

I have gone around and around with this free will thing.

 

I have not decided exactly where I stand on the matter. I like to say there is no such thing as "true" free will, because if there was, my wishes would come true because that would be what I would want to happen. 

 

Since the option to have my wishes come true is not avaiable to me, there is no such things as true free will. Free will generally means to be able to do what you want to do within a range of options. "True" free will would mean you can do what you want to do (period).

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