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Do we have Free Will or is there only Determinism?

This is a great thread again from the point of view that there was such a wide variety of contributions. And some very excellent ones as well. It was started by the Philosopher Princess in March 2006 and is still current. The best parts however were during the period up to 2008. As well as a much greater variety of contributions.

Here are some contributions I thought were really great:

Bondings -
Bondings wrote:
I define free will as the ability to do what I want. Whether I am determined to want it or not doesn't matter in this case.

I see reality as the calculation or simulation of itself. One state doesn't necessarily invoke another one. The possibility of something happening itself makes it real. The observation of reality ties is down to one state of all possibilities. What we see/undergo as reality is a combination/row of observations.

This implies that reality is a combination of all possibilities with no beginning nor end. No need for something to start the "big deterministic machine" or end it, it just exists, always existed and always will.

Kaneda -
But in the end, as Bondings said first and very succinctly, what matters is that we feel we have free will. Whether we actually do is irrelevant, as long as we don't know for sure that we don't.

EDIT: Oh, and yes, I'm an agnostic who believes in free will. And I know a lot of atheists who do the same. And I know religious people who believe God decided every tiniest thing in advance (but don't base their decisions on it). So the split into "religious+free will" and "atheist+determinism" doesn't quite ring true for me. Quite the contrary.

Kaneda -
Kaneda wrote:
DecayClan wrote:
If we had a machine that could calculate all these, we would know the future...

You know, scientists believed that too until quantum mechanics entered the picture. If we knew the position and direction/speed of every single particle in the universe, we would know the future, because we could calculate where each particle would be at every single moment from that point on. And since our brains consist of those same particles, we would be able to predict behaviour just as easily as anything else.

But then it turned out that we can't know the position and direction/speed of just one single particle. This is not just a matter of limitations in our technology. Actually, to this day it seems to physicists that the particle doesn't have a specific position or direction until the moment we measure it - and at that point we've lost the possibility of finding one of them (the one we didn't measure). It's still unclear exactly why this happens, re. nopaniers' and my discussion earlier.

So, even if everything is predetermined (and everything we've learned since Bohr and Heisenberg points towards it not being so), science has stopped believing in us ever knowing it since the mid-1920's.

Also, your own signature gives the other point. Whether everything is predetermined or not, we have free will. Since reality doesn't matter. Only what we know and can understand (actually, I'd prefer to say, that is reality).

1 blog comments below

1642-1727. Isaac Newton introduced a set of physical laws that so successfully predicted and described every detail of the known physical world that philosophers considered this to be a proof that the entire world, including perhaps man’s thinking, operated by Determinism.
Bluedoll on Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:44 am

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