I'm curious to hear anyone's stance on freewill or determinism. I am well aware it's a never-ending debate. I am torn between the two honestly. However, I lean towards Determinism.
Heisenbergs Principal of Uncertainty keeps me on the fence. I'm not a scientist or intellectual, just interested in the thoughts of others and why.


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Opinion: Feels like I have free will because when I decide to do something, I can make it happen. Well, not always... depends on how strongly I decide to do something. If there's free will, it must be on a sliding scale.

Most importantly, no consciousness other than my own is running me. What more can one ask for? I am a bag of chemicals, but I make my own decisions, albeit within parameters of what's actually possible in the real world. (That's the other limit to free will... those limitations in reality that make something impossible, even if I've "decided" to do it.)

Science: Not very well defined, yet! We can guess what it is, measure it or parts of it... again depending on how we define it. Different philosophers can focus on how they define it, e.g. depending on what they care about most: Does God give us total freedom? Should everyone be held unconditionally or conditionally responsible for their actions, and how knowable and relevant is their intention when trying to account for their level of responsibility?

We'll keep making progress in measuring these feelings we have about reality. We just need to ask the best questions, first, which currently varies from one scientist or theologian to the next.

Whoops, I didn't address determinism. Sure, we live in a deterministic universe. But it's not pre-determined, at least not in the sense that anyone or any consciousness can predict everything.

Sam Harris got me thinking when he said 'you are not the author of your own thoughts'. His example is that thoughts just 'happen', and one does not control that process.

But as usual, we're not fully defining the words we use, before we use them. Harris's comment could easily extend to absurdity such as 'book authors don't really author their own books' because their words 'just come to them'.

Speaking of words [ahem!], they all come to each of us via the culture we've grown up in. Their meanings (and baggage) varies from one person and context to the next. If Sam's inner voice does not arise from inside this agent or entity named Sam, then from where, exactly? Sam also leans toward meditating, and experiencing spirituality, to whatever scientific extent he finds possible. Cultural influences and academic training have helped define his language, but we still get to hear 'his' personalized explanations and summaries.

Now try to put the following thought in your own, personal context: We are all 'free' to disagree. (And/or agree.)

My personal take on all of this is that we need to define what free will means before proceeding.

Otherwise, there is no experiment to see if "it" exists.

Basically, it comes down to if it is a testable concept with a null hypothesis.

When I read about "it" the version of what free will is, seems too fluid to pin down, allowing anyone to prove it does or does not exist....based upon WHY they argue it does or doesn't.

Some try to imply that because our brain is a biochemical lump, it its thoughts are 100% predictable, as it is following the laws of physics and chemistry, etc.

I liken that logic to confusing the radioactive decay of a radioactive rock, with the radioactive decay of an atom of that rock.

We know the OVERALL process, and can calculate a half life for the ROCK, but, we CANNOT calculate or predict WHICH atoms are going to decay.

The brain is like that, in that it does involve nothing more than electrochemical activity...which, overall, has predictable and calculable results...

...albeit, the INDIVIDUAL thoughts, even if they originate in our fish or reptilian/non-verbal layers, so they "just pop into our head", are ours.

Otherwise, ALL of us would have come up with E=MC2, Mona Lisa, etc....as we all have the same wet ware.

So, yes, what we know and how we came to approach problems IS a result of the combined nature and nurture we experienced/inherited...

...but, is it reasonable to conclude no one CAN make a decision, BECAUSE it would be based upon their experiences?

Or, is it MORE reasonable to consider the experiences INFLUENCED the decision, that the person MADE?

If there was no such thing as "random" in your inherited traits and experiences, one could make a better argument that all is predestined.

In reality though, there is Brownian Motion, and, Degrees of Freedom, etc, in Chaos Theory, and other means of accounting for random input.

The fact that some things ARE random is WHY we are not all cookie cutter versions of each other......down to WHICH of the 5 billion sperm got through your dad to your mom and into the egg to fertilize it, etc.

You are YOU due to this RANDOM act...as your Dad's underwear tightness and the weather, what movie was playing or did the power go out that night, and Mom's pH, position, diet, and movie preferences, and so on and so forth...all lead to THAT wee tailed feller and not the wee tailed feller next to him, becoming YOU.

So, the physics and math and chemistry etc, are correct, but, we still end up unique, just like everyone else.


My gut impression is that IF free will is the ability TO make decisions, even if limited, say, a baby born with AIDS to a dying starving 12 yr old Mom in Biafra, dropping onto the dirt and being left there...is it that they don't have the 'ability to make decisions", because they are screwed and glued by random acts that predated all opportunities to change course?

Does that count as " no free will"?  

What about if he lives to be 12...?  He can "decide" if he wants to eat the moldy fruit rind he found, or, try to sell it...?

Does that count?

Do you HAVE TO have reasonable "options" to have free will, or, is it a concept that has no context, as it is predetermined by the universe?

What if a successful business man is considering two companies to buy, and is weighing there pros and cons, and he decides on one....did THAT count?

If deciding on vanilla or chocolate ice cream in a cone or a cup....and weighing the choice against its contrast with that day's wardrobe color scheme, etc, does that count?

And so forth...without pinning down what free will means, we can go in circles.


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