"I think therefore I am." Descarte's most basic tenet of free will. But how "free" is it?The more I study this and make observations of the people around me, the more I am convinced that free will is nothing more than an illusion.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." - Arthur C. Clarke.
Now let me rephrase Clarke's third law in context of this discussion:
"Any sufficiently complex memoryplex is indistinguishable from free will."
Note the phrase memoryplex, not memeplex. I'm referring here to our collective memories from the earliest retained memory right up to this instant. That instant has now passed (a few milliseconds ago) and as you continue to read, those instants are similarly passing into your collective memoryplex.
If our decisions are based on what we know (assuming that we're not mentally ill) and what we know is the memories we have formed, then free will simply isn't.
I've thought about this for some time now and I'm only summarising here, but if this is correct, it has frightening implications. For instance, what you've just read, based on what you already know, has influenced you - and you have no choice in what you're about to do: reply, ignore, digest, etc... everything is based on your experience to date plus this last few dozen words of argument.
So how "free" is your will?
We can agree to disagree, sure, but you are the only one here arguing against the proposal and as such I think it behooves us to fully explore your objection - particularly as you're so strident about it. You could be right, after all and good scientists follow the evidence not our hearts.
You have suggested my logic is fallacious and made the similar point to Wanderer.
This is quite acceptable in debate, but I expect you back it up with a fact, not a conjecture: specifically, where in nature does a cause not force an effect - this is the linchpin of your argument.
John, your argument seems to be this: since not everything in the known universe may operate according to cause and effect, and thus not everything may be determined by prior causes, this opens up the possibility for free will. Any problems with this reformulation?
If not, then this seems to imply that many other such things besides free will may now be entirely open as possibilities. Fruits could suddenly pop into existence out of thin air, or we might suspect that our hair could spontaneously catch on fire. My question is why you wouldn't suspect these things but you do suspect free will? Why specifically free will?
To your first question:
That is a proper reformulation if it means I am saying that freewill like all characteristics in the universe may have come into existence spontaneously.
To your second question:
The reason that I afford freewill to the spontaneity without having to afford it to things like fruits popping into existence out of thin air is that scientific principles on the macro level for all intents and purposes must be consistent with each other. (That is, they are supposed to be manifestations of randomness on the micro level that happened to not be cancelled out by other randomnesses there. In that they are manifestations of the events on the micro level that survived the mutual cancellation process the macro level principles are consistent with each other. Put another way some say that scientific principles on the macro level are manifestations of significant probability amplitudes on the micro level). The reason that fruits don't pop into existence out of thin air is that such events on the macro level have a probability amplitude of almost zero. On the other hand the characteristic of freewill on the macro level might have a high probability amplitude and, in this, might not be inconsistent with other scientific principles on the macro level. Resultantly, it might coexist with them even though fruits don't pop into existence out of thin air. As such, spontaneity affording the characteristic of freewill would not as well require it to afford things like fruits popping into existence out of thin air. Accordingly, subscription to freewill would not mandate accepting things like fruits popping into existence out of thin air.
I'd concur Park, free will is conceptual - but then if free will is illusory (according to the proposition) then it would be... Woahhh... I gotta stop smoking weed. I think it's fair to say that the thing that gives us the idea of free will is physical.