A while back, I had a long chat with my niece, trying to explain what I believe is the inevitability of events and the consequent contradiction of the concept of free will.  She puttered off and posted on her page/site/whatever, what was probably a two hour conversation condensed into a short explanation.  I post that here to give the benefit of brevity to anyone who is interested.

"

I believe in fate… and so should you

Things could not be any way other than the way they are.

You made the decisions you did because you used all the rationale and information available to you at the time, so not only were they the right decisions, they were the only ones you ever could have made. 

You are a product of the nature and nurture you received as you developed. On a molecular level, chain reactions shaped your biology. On a psychological level, you were influenced by pre-existing family dynamics in your own household and those of your peers. These presets had a single, if complex, possible outcome.

Whatever happened in the past, it happened, and so here you are. Just like you are. It’s not your fault, it just turned out this way because of what went on millions and billions of years ago, setting off infinite generations of chain reactions.

If things are the way they are right now, then things in the future are going to be a certain way too - we just can’t see it. And that’s fate. :)

Thanks, Sophia

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Comment by Unseen on November 11, 2013 at 12:05am

Except that  if there is no free will you did not actually decide to sleep with them. The outcome of your "decision" was ultimately  decided for you by the laws of physics set in motion by the big bang.

Of course it's a decision I made. And no, it's not due to an uninterrupted chain of cause and effect going back to The Big Bang. You are assuming that there are no interruptions, no intrusions from the subatomic level, etc. 

One needn't trace things back that far. Going back that far is very unclear and not justified in logic or fact. What is clear is that everything—and I mean every single thing—happens due to a set of proximate causes. In the case of decisions, those go on in the brain and nervous system.

Anyway, decisions are caused (determined) or not (random). Do you know a third alternative that doesn't involve a spirit world?

Comment by Unseen on November 11, 2013 at 12:07am

Oh, and wouldn't a spirit need some sort of brain analog?

Comment by Rocky john on November 11, 2013 at 12:16am

" Anyway, decisions are caused (determined) or not (random). Do you know a third alternative that doesn't involve a spirit world?"

Yes i do. That the question of free will is nonsensical.

Comment by Unseen on November 11, 2013 at 12:28am

...the question of free will is nonsensical.

Are you quoting me or are you unaware that that's been my position expressed several times before? What does "will" mean? It's nonsense. 

Comment by Pope Beanie on November 11, 2013 at 1:03am

You are implying that we can change our own future. If we can change our future that means it was not set in stone before we were born . Is that then not the definition of free will? To be able to predict and change our own future?

Yes we can change our own future (to varying degrees), because of self-determinism (in varying degrees), not free will (which is an imagined, unattainable, absolute form of self-determinism).

If free will does not exist my actions have no meaning.  Which tends to make me think it is a bloody stupid question. The modern equivalent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

On this, we can agree. The question of Free Will is, in fact, a meaningless question, in the same sense as asking "what is one divided by zero". Or, "what is God". And so on.

Comment by Unseen on November 11, 2013 at 9:09am

Free Will exists only in fantasy. Self-determination/not being forced is why it's different from rape.

Self-determination is irrelevant. In either case, your actions are determined by events over which you have no specific "hands on" control. If unconscious physical events in your brain cause your behavior/choices, you're still not free.

Comment by Rocky john on November 11, 2013 at 11:51am

"...the question of free will is nonsensical.

Are you quoting me or are you unaware that that's been my position expressed several times before? What does "will" mean? It's nonsense. "

Except i feel hard determinism makes just as little sense as free will. I consider the whole dichotomy of free will against hard determinism (or pure randomness) just as nonsensical.

Comment by Pope Beanie on November 11, 2013 at 1:29pm

Self-determination is irrelevant. In either case, your actions are determined by events over which you have no specific "hands on" control. If unconscious physical events in your brain cause your behavior/choices, you're still not free.

My unconscious is still of Me. My conscious can usually override my unconscious recommendations, especially if I consciously plan or train for it.

I now choose not to take this any further with you and your undeterminanable self... at least not in Strega's thread!

Comment by Unseen on November 11, 2013 at 3:59pm

Except i feel hard determinism makes just as little sense as free will. I consider the whole dichotomy of free will against hard determinism (or pure randomness) just as nonsensical.

Let's start with this: Are we talking about the same thing. One dictionary defines "hard determinism" as "The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs."

So, specifically what's wrong with that? You actually feel there are uncaused human events, acts, and/or decisions? 

Well, then we disagree and, to me, your position is nonsensical because it's a useless hypothesis to say that some human events, don't result from preexisting events or states of affairs. It's the analog of explaining such things by saying, "And then a miracle happened."

Comment by Unseen on November 11, 2013 at 5:38pm

My conscious can usually override my unconscious recommendations, especially if I consciously plan or train for it.

That makes no sense at all. Once you accept that there really is no conscious will because all decisions are made prior to being presented to the conscious mind then that's where anything that is, looks like, or feels like a decision originates. There's no such thing as a conscious decision except in some sort of poetical sense.

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