"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?

Tags: free will

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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.

The group is called "Free WIll DNE" as in "does not exist".
Thanks Wanderer.
I agree, quantum theory has nothing to add to the basic rules of concept formation, reason and logic. One cannot use the scientific method, which is based on things being causal to discredit causality. However, causality and the other above stated cerebral mechanisms depend on causality and as such, randomness cannot exist. Everything is causal, regardless of what our limit of perception cannot tell us about very small things.
Hi again Wanderer:

Firstly, I am happy to hear that you meant no intimidation by the comment I cited. By the way, where is the other discussion on freewill?

Next - Per your response that:

“All due respect to Hawking, physicists often don't make the best philosophers.”

Hawking’s Book (The Grand Design) was not philosophical it was scientific. I, not he was doing the philosophizing based on what he presented as plausible scientific theories in it. Many others of the world’s most prominently known and respected physicists agree that the scientific propositions in GD are plausible.

The propositions involve spontaneity and randomness at the basis of all nature to the extent that entire universes with complete sets of macro laws that are entirely dissimilar to those of other universes may come into existence in an incidental manner. Moreover, for many decades we have been faced with spontaneity and randomness on the micro level to the extent that no credible physicist denies its existence. Clearly, what modern science sees as spontaneity and randomness on the macro or micro level might have afforded the existence of entities whose activity is inconsistent with cause and effect (because nothing can stand in the way of spontaneity). Therefore, in accordance with modern scientific thought entities with freewill could have come into existence spontaneously on a random basis that are independent from cause and effect.

This does not mean as you suggested that such entities would be incoherent from being the product of randomness it means that they could be coherent entities that spontaneously came into existence with the characteristic of being driven by self-determination or as entities that randomly evolved to a state of coherency with self-determination.

Your argument that there is no freewill is entirely founded in the proposition that all of the activity of nature must be the product of cause and effect. Accordingly, as you might be realizing, the problem with your argument is that it collapses on its premise. So far as science can determine not all of the activity of nature is the product of cause and effect and in this nature could have afforded free will.

I don’t see that you have made a solid case. As such, I remain skeptical of your position that there can be no free will here.
Excepting what we've already discussed here, John, and I'm not presupposing what Wanderer might have to add, do you have an example where an effect happens without some definable cause? I'll admit to being at a loss except perhaps for Big Bang but that's essentially outside the realm of nature because nature didn't exist until some pS after the event.

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.

Why might free will "have a high probability amplitude" on the macro level while nothing else does? The question remains, why specifically free will?
What do you mean nothing else does Wander? There are lots of different things in the universe and they all need significant probability amplitudes to exist. Can you establish that freewill is not one of them? If you say it is not because existence is the slave of cause and effect then modern science vehemently disagrees with you. I think you would get a lot out of reading Hawking's book, The Grand Design.
Sure, everything that exists has a significant probability amplitude. I cannot establish that free will is not one of them. Can you establish that it is? Until then, we are arguing about invisible pink elephants. Just like god, we cannot claim that he exists or that he does not, based on the empirical evidence. If we are to simply return to the empirical evidence at this point, we would all simply revert to our older arguments, and I'm sure we would not have gotten far in persuading you. But if this is all you are going on, that free will may exist just because it hasn't been proven that it hasn't, you have not provided any reason at all to doubt what we already have concluded based on the empirical evidence. Did you not read my argument that the mind may be a quantum computer, by any chance? I thought that at least gave your position a fair shot.


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