Do We Have Free Will?

A forum for the discussion of heuristic questions relating to Druidry using verifiable methods. Fo-fúair!
Life is short, the art long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult. — Hippocrates

Sturgeon's Law: Ninety percent of everything is crap.

This is a public forum, viewable by guests as well as members, and is cataloged by most search engines.
Forum rules
If you find a topic of interest and want to continue the discussion then start a new topic under The Hearthfire with a similar name and add a link back to the topic you want to continue.
User avatar
Crimson Stormfire
Posts: 288
Joined: 23 Jan 2011, 14:14
Gender: Male
Location: West Virginia
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by Crimson Stormfire » 08 Feb 2011, 13:04

my 2 cents are a quotable qoute from a series of video games called "legacy of kain"

here it is...

"but does one ever truly have a choice,
one can only match,
move by move the machinations of fate
and thus defy the tyrannous stars."

-kain {legacy of kain series}

User avatar
CedarMist
Posts: 27
Joined: 03 Feb 2011, 00:57
Gender: Female
Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by CedarMist » 08 Feb 2011, 18:07

Nicholaas wrote: What constitutes a "real" choice here? And how would a non-corporeal imbued essence somehow make a decision more "real"? The "god-given free will" most theists proclaim to have isn't free will at all; a command to act, even if it's to act freely, is necessarily not free. It's a self-contradictory proposition, as is much of theism (hey, it's the Skeptical Board, I can say that!).
I should have attempted a definition of it earlier, you're right...

To me, a 'real' choice is one with more than one possible outcome. To me, a human cannot make a 'real' choice because we are unable to use anything other than N&N to face it.
I'm really not sure if I'm making my case clearly enough, but what I am trying to say is that even if there appears to be a choice (do you want chocolate or strawberry ice cream?) there really is not, because we ARE NOT PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY CAPABLE of acting against our N&N. To some people this may not compromise free will, as it is 'located' elsewhere. To me, free will is located in the ability to make a choice which goes against one's N&N (or one's interests, which are determined entirely by our N&N in my mind).

To elaborate on the ice cream example:
Say you like strawberry better. You would HAVE TO choose strawberry. Unless in was more important to your interests to have some variety, to 'choose' (even if you grant free will for this choice of selection-method, the final outcome is up to fate, not you) randomly, submit to peer pressure or trends, etc. If you prefer the flavor of strawberry and you choose chocolate anyways, it seems to me that there HAS to be a more important interest in that choice for you that having your favorite flavor or you just would not do it.

And that's how I see the world :P
A sore Day, a red Day, e'er the New Sun rises.

User avatar
CedarMist
Posts: 27
Joined: 03 Feb 2011, 00:57
Gender: Female
Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by CedarMist » 08 Feb 2011, 18:08

Crimson Stormfire wrote:my 2 cents are a quotable qoute from a series of video games called "legacy of kain"

here it is...

"but does one ever truly have a choice,
one can only match,
move by move the machinations of fate
and thus defy the tyrannous stars."

-kain {legacy of kain series}
Also, Kain has a whole lot of opinions in that game, doesn't he? XD
A sore Day, a red Day, e'er the New Sun rises.

User avatar
Explorer
OBOD Druid
Posts: 2511
Joined: 10 Jul 2004, 22:54
Gender: Male
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by Explorer » 08 Feb 2011, 19:34

CedarMist wrote: To elaborate on the ice cream example:
Say you like strawberry better. You would HAVE TO choose strawberry. Unless in was more important to your interests to have some variety, to 'choose' (even if you grant free will for this choice of selection-method, the final outcome is up to fate, not you) randomly, submit to peer pressure or trends, etc. If you prefer the flavor of strawberry and you choose chocolate anyways, it seems to me that there HAS to be a more important interest in that choice for you that having your favorite flavor or you just would not do it.
As in most things, it all depends on your definitions, and the level at which you are looking.

On this level, with these definitions, I have free will. Today I will choose chocolate because I like it more than strawberry, tomorrow I might choose strawberry because I read that strawberry is better for you. The next day I may decide not to care about what is good for me, and choose chocolate again. Or I may choose strawberry for no other reason than proving that I have a choice. So to me it appears that I have free will.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

Image

User avatar
CedarMist
Posts: 27
Joined: 03 Feb 2011, 00:57
Gender: Female
Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by CedarMist » 08 Feb 2011, 21:13

To me, at this level, your highest interest in the first case was the flavour, so you HAD to take the chocolate because you will pick according to your highest predetermined interest. In the second case, the interest of your health was more important than the interest of the tastier flavor, so you were unable to to choose in contrast to that greater interest. In the third case, you realized that the strawberry (or the interest it represented) was inferior to the chocolate, so there was literally no way you would choose it again unless yet ANOTHER interest was in play.
I do agree that it is an issue of definitions because our perspectives are so similar but end up with the opposite conclusion. The way I see things now, it just seems that our personalities--the thing I refer to as 'Me' is the sum of my brain chemistry and my memories/experiences and the way that they interact with any given event, and that those 2 things are subject to laws (like those of physics or chemistry) which we cannot break. If we could break them, we would have free will in the way I define it.
A sore Day, a red Day, e'er the New Sun rises.

User avatar
Explorer
OBOD Druid
Posts: 2511
Joined: 10 Jul 2004, 22:54
Gender: Male
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by Explorer » 08 Feb 2011, 21:23

CedarMist wrote:To me, at this level, your highest interest in the first case was the flavour, so you HAD to take the chocolate because you will pick according to your highest predetermined interest. In the second case, the interest of your health was more important than the interest of the tastier flavor, so you were unable to to choose in contrast to that greater interest. In the third case, you realized that the strawberry (or the interest it represented) was inferior to the chocolate, so there was literally no way you would choose it again unless yet ANOTHER interest was in play.
Not at all, I might have reversed it just as easily. First choosing for the healthier one, and then for the flavour.
You know what? I will now decide to eat something that I don't really want to eat, just to prove that I have that choice. I am nto hungry, but I will now grab some fruit. Just for the sake of this discussion (which represents the not pre-determined environment for me)... there, I'm eating a piece of fruit now, my free choice, but inspired by this discussion to prove the point.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

Image

User avatar
wyeuro
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1446
Joined: 20 May 2003, 08:36
Gender: Female
Location: oz
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by wyeuro » 09 Feb 2011, 02:19

there, I'm eating a piece of fruit now, my free choice, but inspired by this discussion to prove the point.
how do you know you were not subliminally influenced by your invisible fairy godmother, who, shocked at all that wanton icecream eating, was worried about your health and compelled you to 'decide' right wilfully to eat a piece of fruit instead. it was good advice, i'm sure :grin:
wy

User avatar
CedarMist
Posts: 27
Joined: 03 Feb 2011, 00:57
Gender: Female
Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by CedarMist » 09 Feb 2011, 02:44

Nico wrote: Not at all, I might have reversed it just as easily. First choosing for the healthier one, and then for the flavour.
You know what? I will now decide to eat something that I don't really want to eat, just to prove that I have that choice. I am nto hungry, but I will now grab some fruit. Just for the sake of this discussion (which represents the not pre-determined environment for me)... there, I'm eating a piece of fruit now, my free choice, but inspired by this discussion to prove the point.
To the first point:
I'm sorry, I interpreted your original post to mean that you read about strawberry being more healthy on the second day, not before your first ice cream, therefore introducing a new interest. My mistake.
But that doesn't actually matter. If you eat strawberry one day and then not the second day, either the strawberry was more unpleasant than had been anticipated (compared to chocolate or in general) or in between ice creams your interest in having a more enjoyable food overruled your more long-term interest in your health, which was sort of suffering either way if you had ice cream to begin with. I don't know about you, but my biology is a much bigger fan of cake than push ups, and this interest comes first fairly often when I am tired, PMSing, etc (when the body's interests gain strength). You could have also thought "well I took care of my body one day, so I can take care of my tastebuds today." People use this rational all this all the time. Advertisers capitalize on it. There could have been a number of other competing interests I'm just not thinking of as well.

To the second point:
The very near past is "nurture" to me just as much as the distant past. It is an experience which has an influence on your interests. This discussion, for example, has caused your interest in proving your free will to take precedence over your interest in eating things which are pleasurable to you. You said in your post, in fact, that the cause of that action was 'for the sake of the discussion'. I do not call this free will. I would even theorize that you were wrong in saying that you did not want to eat it, but in fact that the truth would have been that you did want to. It just did not cause pleasure or end hunger, which are the usual and anticipated reasons for eating food.
If your interest in eating an unpleasant fruit is suddenly greater than the one for NOT eating it (and not other interests are in play), you will eat it. You are unable to choose otherwise.

That is how it still seems to me.
A sore Day, a red Day, e'er the New Sun rises.

User avatar
Explorer
OBOD Druid
Posts: 2511
Joined: 10 Jul 2004, 22:54
Gender: Male
Location: The Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by Explorer » 09 Feb 2011, 08:49

CedarMist wrote:You said in your post, in fact, that the cause of that action was 'for the sake of the discussion'. I do not call this free will. I would even theorize that you were wrong in saying that you did not want to eat it, but in fact that the truth would have been that you did want to. It just did not cause pleasure or end hunger, which are the usual and anticipated reasons for eating food.
If your interest in eating an unpleasant fruit is suddenly greater than the one for NOT eating it (and not other interests are in play), you will eat it. You are unable to choose otherwise.

That is how it still seems to me.
I understand, and I also understand that whatever free choice I describe, you will be able to describe it in that way. So in that sense, you win hahaha.

But... that is not how it seems to me. To me it seems like the choices I make are a combination of the environment (like this discussion) and my background (character, experiences, genes).
Even if everything would be predetermined at some more basic level, it doesn't seem that way to me from a human perspective. So to me it seems that I have free will. And that is how I will act.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

Image

User avatar
Frog
OBOD Druid
Posts: 977
Joined: 02 Oct 2006, 12:04
Gender: Male
Location: outside Ilminster, Somerset, UK
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by Frog » 09 Feb 2011, 13:42

Some interesting posts - but perhaps there is another approach.

Within society we have made rules and policies about our behaviours - socially and morally. These can vary from country to country, even village to village. In the most part, most citizens of those places will follow those rules. Some of those rules seem strange, even abhorant to those from another place (as a simple example, the fact that in the UK you can buy beer at 18 years of age, yet in some US places it is 21).

However, within that society there are those that decide that they will not follow those rules - so they are exercising a deliberate action of free will.

So I guess what I'm getting at is that we do have free will; however (in the main) we are happy to confirm to society which curtail some of the more extreme demonstrations of free will.
"Don't look to the end of the rainbow for the pot of gold; it's already under your feet"
Enjoy this life. It would be a shame if we looked forward to the next, only to find we forgot the one before.

Image ImageImage
ImageI08; 2010 BS, SB; 2011 IL; 2011 BS
ImageSpeakers Corner, 2011

My spiritual blog: http://theblackcrane.wordpress.com
Bardic Inspirations (Stories/rambles): http://frog101.wordpress.com

User avatar
DJ Droood
OBOD Druid
Posts: 5558
Joined: 02 Feb 2003, 18:52
Gender: Male
Location: North Eastern North America
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by DJ Droood » 09 Feb 2011, 13:44

I wonder what mysterious Third Force is compelling us to come to the DHP and make tortured ice cream analogies for or against "free will"? What metameme are we serving?
Image
2010 LI
2011 LI
2013 BS
Image
12/10-Ancestors
"If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe."
Kerry Thornley

User avatar
wyeuro
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1446
Joined: 20 May 2003, 08:36
Gender: Female
Location: oz
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by wyeuro » 10 Feb 2011, 00:24

well, i don't know that there are only three things operating. nurture+nature certainly comes up against a third entity, even if you call it 'everything else that exists', but everything else' breaks down into a lot of other entities, forces and modalities. sure, the laws of the land, our culture, the laws of nature, cosmic law, our physiological limitations etc, all constrain our wills. we might will ourselves to fly to the moon for all we're worth, but the law of gravity is operating against that, so the will to fly to the moon is not free. imo, we have degrees of freedom, of free will, and one of our major tasks as a species has always been the collective attempt to optimise this for everyone (ideally).

so do we place ourselves willingly under these laws? sometimes, but we're subject to them whether or no.

User avatar
CedarMist
Posts: 27
Joined: 03 Feb 2011, 00:57
Gender: Female
Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by CedarMist » 10 Feb 2011, 04:23

Frog wrote:Some interesting posts - but perhaps there is another approach.

Within society we have made rules and policies about our behaviours - socially and morally. These can vary from country to country, even village to village. In the most part, most citizens of those places will follow those rules. Some of those rules seem strange, even abhorant to those from another place (as a simple example, the fact that in the UK you can buy beer at 18 years of age, yet in some US places it is 21).

However, within that society there are those that decide that they will not follow those rules - so they are exercising a deliberate action of free will.

So I guess what I'm getting at is that we do have free will; however (in the main) we are happy to confirm to society which curtail some of the more extreme demonstrations of free will.
To me this just means you've learned to put the fun of drinking before the value of lawful behavior. My free-will believing friends would probably agree with this assessment.
As Nico and I seem to have agreed, there seems to be a semantic issue because we see the same instances as being indicative of free will or not.
well, i don't know that there are only three things operating. nurture+nature certainly comes up against a third entity, even if you call it 'everything else that exists', but everything else' breaks down into a lot of other entities, forces and modalities. sure, the laws of the land, our culture, the laws of nature, cosmic law, our physiological limitations etc, all constrain our wills. we might will ourselves to fly to the moon for all we're worth, but the law of gravity is operating against that, so the will to fly to the moon is not free. imo, we have degrees of freedom, of free will, and one of our major tasks as a species has always been the collective attempt to optimise this for everyone (ideally).
Should I say instead that N&N seem like our world interaction-toolkit and that 'everything else' is what we would call those things we encounter and make appear to make choices about. The 'third thing' is just something we would need (like a soul or something) to make decisions; it would have to be something not subject to natural laws, as far as I can discern. It doesn't refer to Big Brother or anything. More like another organ?
In my opinion, one of our major tasks as a species has been to pursue our interests with varying degrees of success for our collective species. But I don't want to get too political :P
It just seems that, like your eloquent flying-to-the-moon example, we may appear to have choice but we don't have the ability to act upon it. In my mind, though, this can also be a mental issue. We all know what it feels like when two options are equal in our minds, right? That tug? The issue isn't things being physically impossible. It's that I'd say our psychology is subject to the same sort (but less apparent or measurable) limitations. We can't act against our psychology any more than we can our biology. We can only take the option our minds allow us to: the one which represents the most important interest.

............this could go in a circle forever, though. I think I'm going to bow out :P
A sore Day, a red Day, e'er the New Sun rises.

User avatar
DJ Droood
OBOD Druid
Posts: 5558
Joined: 02 Feb 2003, 18:52
Gender: Male
Location: North Eastern North America
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by DJ Droood » 10 Feb 2011, 13:57

............this could go in a circle forever, though. I think I'm going to bow out :P
Well, if these are our closing statements, I would have to say that I've seen nothing in the buckets of verbiage over the last two pages that would point to anything outside of the natural world. I've seen no clearly defined argument for a "Third Force" or something "more" or "beyond" the world of physical laws, even if we can't fully explain how all the natural forces and systems influence our behaviour. Our ability to make choices, which I think is how we are defining "free will" here, is influenced by, and part of a universe-wide system of natural phenomena. So despite the attempt to insert God (aka "third force", "soul", "more" and "something other"), into the mix, we are still left with what we can measure and contemplate with the tools at our disposal. Even our imaginative and poetic attempts to create meaning are part of the natural system.

I realize this is very similar to the theist rear guard argument that "god is everything", which I still suppose is still a small victory over "god is something specific that influences us in a specific way, for a specific reason.", which seems to have become an untenable position. (although I would accept "god" as a meme, or idea, that most definitely influences people in a certain way....just like how people serve the idea/ideology of, say, communism.)
Image
2010 LI
2011 LI
2013 BS
Image
12/10-Ancestors
"If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe."
Kerry Thornley

User avatar
Crimson Stormfire
Posts: 288
Joined: 23 Jan 2011, 14:14
Gender: Male
Location: West Virginia
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by Crimson Stormfire » 13 Feb 2011, 02:59

CedarMist wrote:
Crimson Stormfire wrote:my 2 cents are a quotable qoute from a series of video games called "legacy of kain"

here it is...

"but does one ever truly have a choice,
one can only match,
move by move the machinations of fate
and thus defy the tyrannous stars."

-kain {legacy of kain series}
Also, Kain has a whole lot of opinions in that game, doesn't he? XD
and taken for what their worth and applied in differing contexts they can make a whole lot of sense :grin:

User avatar
Frog
OBOD Druid
Posts: 977
Joined: 02 Oct 2006, 12:04
Gender: Male
Location: outside Ilminster, Somerset, UK
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by Frog » 19 Feb 2011, 16:22

CedarMist wrote:
Frog wrote:Some interesting posts - but perhaps there is another approach.

Within society we have made rules and policies about our behaviours - socially and morally. These can vary from country to country, even village to village. In the most part, most citizens of those places will follow those rules. Some of those rules seem strange, even abhorant to those from another place (as a simple example, the fact that in the UK you can buy beer at 18 years of age, yet in some US places it is 21).

However, within that society there are those that decide that they will not follow those rules - so they are exercising a deliberate action of free will.

So I guess what I'm getting at is that we do have free will; however (in the main) we are happy to confirm to society which curtail some of the more extreme demonstrations of free will.
To me this just means you've learned to put the fun of drinking before the value of lawful behavior. My free-will believing friends would probably agree with this assessment.
As Nico and I seem to have agreed, there seems to be a semantic issue because we see the same instances as being indicative of free will or not.

In my opinion, one of our major tasks as a species has been to pursue our interests with varying degrees of success for our collective species. But I don't want to get too political :P
It just seems that, like your eloquent flying-to-the-moon example, we may appear to have choice but we don't have the ability to act upon it. In my mind, though, this can also be a mental issue. We all know what it feels like when two options are equal in our minds, right? That tug? The issue isn't things being physically impossible. It's that I'd say our psychology is subject to the same sort (but less apparent or measurable) limitations. We can't act against our psychology any more than we can our biology. We can only take the option our minds allow us to: the one which represents the most important interest.

............this could go in a circle forever, though. I think I'm going to bow out :P
Hi there.
I think you may be looking at the finger, rather than the moon in my analogy. Within society, "Free will" (IMO) is the ability for someone to conduct their own actions and behaviours without restriction by an outside body or force. What I was referring to in my example was that in society, this scope of what is considered "free will" is determined by society - and yet many of these boundaries vary from location to location.
If we are to determine whether the initial action of the person is "free will" then there is a need to consider where it sits within the complexity of the action. I don't have free will over breathing because if I don't then I will die; however, I can choose to have a pet in my house.

I'm not sure that it will go round in a circle - more that I suspect we don't have the requisite degrees in anamorphic (how people act and move - I think that's the right term) and psychological behaviours to properly respond.
"Don't look to the end of the rainbow for the pot of gold; it's already under your feet"
Enjoy this life. It would be a shame if we looked forward to the next, only to find we forgot the one before.

Image ImageImage
ImageI08; 2010 BS, SB; 2011 IL; 2011 BS
ImageSpeakers Corner, 2011

My spiritual blog: http://theblackcrane.wordpress.com
Bardic Inspirations (Stories/rambles): http://frog101.wordpress.com

User avatar
wolf560
Posts: 786
Joined: 27 Aug 2010, 23:06
Gender: Male
Location: Arizona, USA
Contact:

Re: Do We Have Free Will?

Post by wolf560 » 19 Feb 2011, 19:20

I am a big fan of "Free Will"....
.... and also a fan of the mystical "Celtic things in Three's".

One of the things that I taught my soldiers was that they could make any choice they wanted to with one proviso; "Time".
As one of my soldiers used to say;
"There are three things you have to consider when you make a decision in this outfit;
What were you taught? Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures is what the US Army says (TTP's)
What is happening right now? What is the current Situation, have you had to deal with it before?
What does you "gut" tell you? Something 'feels right' to you, and oftentimes this is what should probably be considered first.


In the terms of this article we can break those down into;
Nurture= What were you taught?
Nature= What is happening right now?
Notion= What does you "gut" tell you?


I used to tell my soldiers that they had to make up their minds within the first three seconds.
Perhaps this was an artificial limit but we were training for combat...
...but I found that sometimes a 'quick choice' is not always a 'bad choice'...
......sometimes if you are used to making 'quick choices', when you take a little extra time a really good choice can be made.


In any case, I do believe Free Will exists
I feel that it is something that is not connected with my Deities at least.
I consider the "Three N's"....Nurture - Nature - Notion
.
The Druids wrote nothing down, and memorized everything...
/|\ Mark /|\

Image Image
2011 BS
Speakers Corner (Sep 2011) A lesson in the Ogham
Divination method; The Awen Stones

Guild Chief; ADF Scholars Guild, Scribe GotRP ADF, Bandarach Council member, NOD Council member


ImageImageImageImage

Locked

Return to “The Skeptical Druid”