Author Topic: The Existence of Free Will  (Read 88 times)

Ant

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The Existence of Free Will
« on: December 17, 2002, 11:28:02 PM »
In the past year I came on my own to the belief that Free Will does not exists.  At best we have the ability to do as we will, but to the freedom to will whatever we want is not existant.  For awhile I presented this idea to people around me and everyone disagreed with me.  Some people got quite agitated.

Anyways, eventually I thought I cant be the only person that believes this to be the case so I did some research.  There are actually quite a few noted philosophers that have made this same arguement. This form of philosophy referred to as determinism has had a few strong supporters most notably perhaps Kant and Schopenheur.  

Schopenheur wrote an essay entitled "Prize Essay on the Freedom of the Will." This is the strongest argument to date in support of determinism.  For those of you who wish to refute the assumption of No Free Will read this first.  I am in no way possible to present as strong an arguement as created in this essay.  

However consider if you will the consequences of a totally free will.  If this exists life as we know it would be sheer chaos.  At any moment a person can will abosultely anything (although obviously certain physical constraints still exist, such as monetary constraints, physical ability, etc).  Life would be abosutely unpredictable since everyone we interact with at any moment can will whatever they want, we will never have any idea as to what will happen next.  

The fact that human beings have morals, and varying levels of intellectual capability suggests that the will is at least partially determined.  For example,a person that believes murder is bad will most likely not possess the will to do so.  However another individual that is carefree about murder is not bound by this moral constraint on their will.

However, can an individual actually choose their morals?  Can an individual choose their character?

The most frequent arguement made against free will by normal individuals is that "I have the freedom to will what I want.  Options are presented to me in life, the choice I make is mine to make"... However, consider what does your will depend on?  In other words, what is the origins of a person's willing.  When a options are presented and you choose what what did you base that choice on?  The choice was most likely based on past expereinces, these experiences which are out of the individual's control create their response, or rather their will at the moment.

People also argue in a situation with two choices an individual can choose one or he can choose the other.  Therefore the freedom to do as he wills exists.  However this is simply the same as saying, I can will option one or I can will option two.  There is no freedom to will both, and if their is freedom to will both that doesn't prove free will.  It only proves that in a certain instance a person willed to do both options.  However, as he considers the options he will is influenced by different motives.  The motives eventually force a specific choice.  Therefore, eventually the will is still determined by the individuals motives which are determined by his character, morals, knowledge of the choice at hand, etc.  An individual can however change his character, his morals, or increase his knowledge thereby influencing his motives but he must will to do this.

Some contradictions in society that brought me to this belief include comments such as "he is the product of a bad home" well in this case if free will exists the child that is a product of a bad home should have the freedom to become what he wills to become.   In countering this people often cite something such as "well I know this guy John that grew up in an abusive household and he is successful so what your saying is wrong."  This arguement is quite silly since it correlates a persons existence to only one factor.  There are lots of factors influencing an indivuduals life besides "a bad home" so it is possible for a child that grew up in a bad home to be successful depending upon the different influential events he encounters in his life.  But this does not prove free will.  It only proves that certain outside factors influenced him to will success, and gave him the capabilities to achieve it.  

Other examples include the field of psychology.  The ability to predict another person's reaction to your actions.  The existance of distinct cultures that people adhere to, for example why do most italians adopt aspects of italian culture?  Why do most poeple in the ghetto suscribe to the ghetto culture?  
 

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Re:The Existence of Free Will
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2002, 08:03:52 PM »
i agree with what you're saying, Ant, especially your remark that if we all had free will, there would be chaos

i think it was Rousseau that brought forth the idea of a "social contract" whereas people in a society sacrifice some freedoms in order to live within a civilized society and adhere to rules  which will make society a better place to live

ummm...what more can i say, i really think Free Will is one of those things that simply doesnt exist, there will always be something that determines the freedoms one exercises.
"One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" she asked. "Where do you want to go?" was his response. "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

- Lewis Carroll
 

Ant

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Re:The Existence of Free Will
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2002, 08:11:17 PM »
A more difficult question though is whether or not a person's will is simply constrained or if it is absolutely determined?

If you like this arguement, I have further ideas on the implications of no free will.