I've given a great deal of thought to the concept of "free will" and have determined that there really is no such thing. Logically, all of existence is a matter of cause and effect, and since we have no control over the causes (we weren't even present at the time they originated), we obviously can have no control over the effects.

An easy way to prove this precept to yourself is to look back over your life; see that turning point that changed the course of your future? How many people, how many uncontrollable events brought you to that point? See how you really had nothing to do with the path you trod thereafter?

Another interesting side effect of this train of thought is to realize that everything in the universe is interconnected and influences everything else. A simple exercise: look at what you're wearing, then trace each item (and everything in and on it) back to its origin. You'll find people who grew fiber plants (think sun, climate, soil, etc.) in one place (and you can think about what brought them to that time and place, too), factories and workers in other places from whence buttons, zippers, shoelaces, etc. came, and of course the vast array of geographic areas in which the various items of your attire were assembled. Getting aboard this train of thought will allow you to see yourself as a tiny portion of the immense universe, both impacting and being impacted upon by every other entity, from the sun, moon and stars to the ant queen that just laid a thousand eggs in your front yard.

Tying this into the "no free will" argument is simple logic. All the people and elements that went into your appearance today pushed you to make the decisions you made, totally without your knowledge or collusion. Everything that happened everywhere in the universe today will affect what you do tomorrow. Or in the next moment. And you will have absolutely no control over it!


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There is evidence of causality, there is no evidence for free-will. Follow the evidence. If it weren't a deterministic environment, how would we be able to make any consistent accurate predictions at all? Science depends on causality and our deterministic environment to make predictions.
So cause and effect disproves free-will?
How exactly is that supposed to work? It proves that when I drop a ball in a place with gravity, the ball will fall, not whether or not I decided to drop the ball because I wanted to or not.
You have to understand what led up to your dropping of the ball, Walker. And that means everything that led to it, including how the ball came to be, the situation of all the people involved in its inception, in addition to all the circumstances in your own life that led to the moment of dropping the ball, very few of which were under your control. If you follow that train of thought, you'll begin to see how determinism negates the concept of free will.
You seem to be getting away from the actual question of my decision to drop the ball. I can decide to drop the ball, I can decide not to drop the ball. The situation surrounding that decision can make it more or less likely for me to drop the ball, I could still choose the less likely option.
On another note, consider physics. Old Newtonian physics says: this will always happen this way. Quantum Mechanics says: well we can give you a probability, but no absolutes. Most likely, when you lean up against a stone wall, you most likely will not fall through it, but there is still a minute chance that you will fall through. If such simple things as that can go any number of possible ways, how can my dropping or holding the ball be absolutely predicted, or fated?
Again, just because you cannot "predict" the outcome of something doesn't mean it must have been random or freely-willed. It just means you have not calculated all the variables and data to make an accurate prediction. And ignorance of what all the causes are for something isn't a valid excuse to claim you have free-will.

The action of dropping the ball isn't your choice at all. As you said, The "situation" surrounding that decision make it more or less likely for you to drop the ball. The situation, the environment, the chain of events leading up to that moment, determine whether or not you drop that ball. Your decisions are not your own, they are actions determined by a chain of events leading up to that moment. Just as your environment shaped who you are, it determines your actions and decisions. Your decisions are not your own, they were determined, not freely willed. If you do not drop the ball, there are causes for that which determined you not to drop it.

Just because you cannot "predict" what will happen doesn't help your argument.
I think Walker is trying to understand what happens in the mind.

In which I would answer is that your mind is really a result of programing. The perception of dropping the ball because you want to is really a bunch of the brain activity that is responding to both chemical and electromagnetic. None of it is choosing what it is doing. What your perception of reality and actions that you choose to make are all following the same relation.
I am not saying that the unpredictable is the issue wiht your argument, not this time. I'm saying that your argument, that every single thing must happen in the way it does and could not have happened any other way is flawed, by the very existence of quantum mechanics and the fact that there are probabilities for any event. You say that a regular world, in which things always happen in a certain way, determinism, and especially the rather extreme version that you expound, must work. But the very existence of probability, the fact that an event has a possibility to happen multiple ways opens up the universe.
People wiht deterministic world views say that the world follows regularly from the first moments of the universe to whatever happens now, and everything follows exactly, and could only happen in the way that it has with the starting conditions our universe has. If even the path of electron in space is only a matter of probability, and unpredictability, then how can we possibly say that the universe only could have turned out one way.
An if we accept that an atom can move in a different way, making the universe an inherently unpredictable place, your argument that things must have occurred the way they have doesn't make much sense. They could have turned out any of a million ways, and happened to turn out like they did. Your regular deterministic universe is illogical.
And again, you cannot really prove that the situation surrounding me, and including me, ultimately decides if I drop the ball. You could say, as Tedster does below, say that it is a result of unconscious prejudices, and of programming, but programming can most likely have free will as well, if allowed the appropriate complexity. While quite a bit of things I perceive to be conscious decisions are determined by my unconscious mind and are not made by anything that can be called free will. But the conscious mind exists, and is separate form unconscious processes and allowes us to make choices, that defy what the situation surrounding and including us would seem to dictate.
Damn I'm long winded.
But why did you build a dam? Or why didn't you?

We are not separate from the system.
is the universe determined... unknown... does that matter? no. could the universe have been other than it actually is now? yes. does that matter? no. the fact is that if it was DETERMINED, it was not FREE and it was purely RANDOM, it was not willed... and no combination of the two will change that. FREE WILL is thus an oxymoron term invented by the religious to justify the damning of those who would have to be punished by their god for not obeying or believing. However we got to HERE, there appears no way to undo it, which means that everyone everywhere in the entire universe is exactly where they MUST be, there is no choice about that... whether they could have or should have done things differently does not change this... and it did not change it a micro nano milli second ago nor one before that nor before that as far back as I can fathom.... which seems to indicate that no matter how we get to where we find ourselves there is really no alternative but in our imagination. That I feel I am making a choice seems more of an illusion than a fact as my decision making process is spread out among many moments, none of which I can alter at the arrival of my decision... and none of which were not predicated on the events that preceded... like a falling of dominoes, the final one was not isolated from its predecessors. We are all the ONE, apparently uncreated reality, manifesting the true nature of our core existence and nothing more... but a wonderous existence it is none the less.
There is a standard response made by theists to the problem of freewill, and it is a serious problem for the idea of a single omnipitant god, their standard get out of jail free card, called The Freewill Theodicy goes something like this :-
A, If this is the best of all possible worlds, it must be one in which people choose freely to do good, rather one in which they function as amoral robots.
1> Because people could not freely choose to do good without the oportunity to freely choose to do evil, the potential for evil is necessary in a maximally good world.
2> The potential to do evil is only real if it is taken from time to time.
3> There can be no highest good without freedom, and there can be no freedom without the potential for and occurance of evil.
So the argument for the non-existance of god from the presence of freewill and evil fails.The failure does not prove on the other hand that there is a god, it simply shows that the presence of freewill and evil does not disprove the existance of god.
Theodicy is basically an argument which has been tacked on to cover the various glitches in the logic of ethical monotheism, the glitches, called disteleological surds in philisophy jargon, lead people like Bertrand Russell to try to prove the non-existance of god through the presence of evil.
no free will = no responsibility.

However, in the face of virtual pseudo-chaos so indistinguishable from actual chaos - while free will may ultimately be an illusion - it is such an indescribably perfect illusion that my simple response to the assertion 'free will is an illusion' is this:

so what?


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