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Author Topic: Does free will exist?  (Read 11137 times)

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #25 on: 28/12/2005 14:18:32 »
On the subject of time travel, I remember reading a book many years ago that intrigued me. I can't remember the title or author.
It was a bit complex but I'll try to get this right.
In the book a man goes back in time and meets a woman, ending up getting her pregnant. He then returns to his own time and for some reason undergoes a complete sex change operation, even to the extent of having a womb etc implanted. However, to save mental confusion, previous memories of being a man were replaced by false ones of always having been a woman. He/she then goes back in time again, meets a man, and gets pregnant by him.
You're way ahead of me, aren't you! Yup, the woman he met and got pregnant was his own mother and he was the resulting child. When he went back as a woman, it was himself that he met & got pregnant by. Which means that not only was he his own father & mother, but also his own son
 [xx(]
« Last Edit: 28/12/2005 14:20:58 by DoctorBeaver »
 

another_someone

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #26 on: 28/12/2005 14:36:43 »
quote:
Originally posted by DoctorBeaver
Also, if time were a dimension that is already fixed, unfettered time-travel would seem to be an inevitability. However, there are some very strong arguments as to why going back in time could not happen.



There is a serious problem when people talk about time travel, and that is a linguistic one.

When I go forward or backward in space, everyone expects a continuity in my movement, that I will travel one step (one millimetre, one micron, etc.) at a time, one after the other, in my chosen direction.  Yet, when we talk of time travel, one talks actually of jumping about in time, and creating discontinuities in time.  We do not expect such discontinuities in movements in space, so why should they exist in movements in time (whether in a forward or backward direction).
« Last Edit: 28/12/2005 14:40:35 by another_someone »
 

another_someone

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #27 on: 28/12/2005 14:45:42 »
quote:
Originally posted by DoctorBeaver

 
quote:
I would not disagree with your conclusion, but I'm not sure how I can not interpret as empirical evidence – it seems to be just that.


You cannot draw empiric conclusions from just 1 animal. While it is true in Shaman's case, that empathy is far less pronounced in my other dogs. Indeed, in some it appears to be totally absent.




Sorry, I was sure you were talking about empirical evidence, not empirical conclusions.  Evidence is not the same as proof.
 

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #28 on: 28/12/2005 14:57:09 »
quote:
Originally posted by Andrew K Fletcher

Hi Searcher, welcome to the nakedscientists haunt

A cure for cancer might be found in omitting things from our daily intake rather than finding a magic bullet.
As time progresses more and more additives in the myriad of products and food manipulations take place adding to the burden imposed on our fragility, further compounding the vast increases in cancer related deaths. we need to have a free will rethink on where we are heading and take control of our lives, instead of being murdered along in the illusion of free will.

"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."
K.I.S. "Keep it simple!"




This topic is getting ever more fragmented – but never mind.

I don't know that we have any evidence whatsoever about historic cancer rates.  Many cancers are extremely difficult to diagnose, particularly at a time when autopsies were prohibited.

Ofcourse, beyond that, assuming one discounts the possibility of immortality, then there can only be one possible way to reduce mortality from cancer: death by another cause.  Historically, there were many other causes of death, and this might be regarded as the primary evidence we might have for increasing numbers of cancers in recent times.  Inevitably, any reduction in rates of death by cancer in future times could only be accompanied by an increase in death by some other cause.

Ofcourse, none of this has any bearing on survivable cancers, and the fact that we are now better able to treat many cancers means that people now have more survivable cancers than they once did, and that trend may well continue into the future even as other causes of death overtake cancer.
« Last Edit: 28/12/2005 15:03:07 by another_someone »
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #29 on: 28/12/2005 15:36:07 »
Threads very easily go down Tangent Avenue !! and if all are enjoying the interaction then I see no problem with it. It just takes a little nudge to realign it back. In a way, I think it's good that this tree has many branches !! (oh...did I really say that ?...sorry )...;)

Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!
 

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #30 on: 28/12/2005 15:44:26 »
quote:
Originally posted by DoctorBeaver

Realmswalker - I'm not sure I agree that if another big bang occurred, the outcome would be the same. Maybe that is the case for non-self-replicating structures such as stars, planets etc. But apply chaos theory to evolution and things could have turned out very differently indeed in the animal kingdom. It would only have taken 1 tiny difference in a genetic mutation millions of years ago and maybe human beings would not even have evolved.



Even at the level of stars and galaxies, I would imagine quantum fluctuations in the early universe (assuming one accepts the big bang model) would have caused the same sorts of uncertainties as the butterfly wing in a weather model.

quote:

I am also not convinced that destiny totally precludes free will. As an example :-  drive from a given address in London to a given address in Bristol. Where you leave from is preset, where you end up is preset. You could even specify the time at which you must arrive. But the route you take is entirely down to your free will. However, the closer you get to your destination, the more constrained your options become. In this instance, although your will is constrained by certain parameters, you are still at liberty to exercise a degree of freedom.



The problem is not really about end points or routes, it is about the different premises used by the scientific model of the universe and the free will model of the universe (or at least, the human component of the universe).

If, along your journey from London to Bristol, you choose to stop off at a service station, the free will model would simply look at that as a personal choice.  That same 'choice' would be viewed by the scientific model, and questions would be asked as to what caused that choice.  Such questions could in the first instance be answered by issues that may have guided your choice, such as the amount of fuel you had in your car, and the when you had breakfast, etc., but none of these could be a complete scientific answer.  The only totally complete scientific answer would have to take into account all the biological processes in your body, until it comes to the conclusion that given the state of these biological processes, and the environment the occurred in, the fact that you would stop at that service station became not a matter of free choice, but a matter of biological inevitability within that environment.

It is possible to theoretically argue that science can never predict human actions with that degree of precision, but in that case you are placing a limit upon science.  This does not directly resolve the conflict between science and free will, but avoids the conflict by prescribing a region of reality that scientific understanding cannot reach.

The other possibility must be to say that science can predict precisely what it is you will to, to the finest detail, and in doing so you have left no room for an independent notion of free will within the scientific model.  The only options then are either to dismiss free will as merely an illusion, or accept that multiple models of the same event can exist, and that the scientific interpretation, while valid, is only one of many interpretations of the same event.
 

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #31 on: 28/12/2005 15:51:06 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep

Threads very easily go down Tangent Avenue !! and if all are enjoying the interaction then I see no problem with it. It just takes a little nudge to realign it back. In a way, I think it's good that this tree has many branches !! (oh...did I really say that ?...sorry )...;)

Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!



OK, here goes another tangent about tangents :)

I would be sorry to see any of the tangents disappear, since they all have (in my opinion) something valuable to offer, the problem arises because of the linear format of these topics, that it makes it very difficult to manage, and very easy to find that one has missed something of interest in the middle of it all.

One really has a need for proper tree structured threaded messages (there we go, back to your trees and branches :)).
 

another_someone

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #32 on: 28/12/2005 16:03:33 »
quote:
Originally posted by Searcher

Hi all, this is my first post on this excellent web site and here is something to ponder on.;)

Free will is an illusion.

Time controls the universe and when it came into existence at the big bang all three parts were formed together. Past, Present and Future are all there. We are moving through time at the rate of 1 second every second and leaving the past at the same rate and moving into a future that is already there, so no matter what you do you will land up at the same point. Therefore if the future exists then the answers to all our questions exist, all knowledge is there for the taking. If it’s not then how do we learn new things.
Can anyone doubt, for instance, that a cure for cancer lies in the future, we just have to wait for our passage in time to reach it.  Who knows it could be tomorrow!:)  




The paradox exists that if free will is merely an illusion, then how can we ask questions, for are not the questions themselves merely an aspect of free will?  If the questions, being the product of a manifest illusion, are therefore themselves merely an illusion, then what meaning is it to answer them?
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #33 on: 28/12/2005 16:05:04 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone

quote:
Originally posted by neilep

Threads very easily go down Tangent Avenue !! and if all are enjoying the interaction then I see no problem with it. It just takes a little nudge to realign it back. In a way, I think it's good that this tree has many branches !! (oh...did I really say that ?...sorry )...;)

Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!



OK, here goes another tangent about tangents :)

I would be sorry to see any of the tangents disappear, since they all have (in my opinion) something valuable to offer, the problem arises because of the linear format of these topics, that it makes it very difficult to manage, and very easy to find that one has missed something of interest in the middle of it all.

One really has a need for proper tree structured threaded messages (there we go, back to your trees and branches :)).



Can you imgine how many other branches would procreate new ones ?...though I see your point of the benefit of it. Perhaps some sort of cross referencing tool would be of use here ?

.. There's no reason that I can see that any of the tangents need disappear. No one has been rude, offensive or provocative have they ?...having said that I admit I have not read the entire thread in detail but upon glancing through it, it all seems nice and cordial.

Now this is really going off topic isn't it ?...I hope the momentum returns.


Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #34 on: 28/12/2005 16:08:32 »
If free will does not exist ...then all I can say is ...what is the point ?...if there's no challenge...no obstacles to overcome because it's all predetermined then what are we ?...just a biological element in a big program ?...is this the intelligent design thing happening again ?

Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!
 

another_someone

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #35 on: 28/12/2005 16:27:48 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep

If free will does not exist ...then all I can say is ...what is the point ?...if there's no challenge...no obstacles to overcome because it's all predetermined then what are we ?...just a biological element in a big program ?...is this the intelligent design thing happening again ?

Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!



But, as I said, there is the paradox.

If free will does not exist, then my answer to your question is not a consequence of my free will, and your interpretation of my answer, or indeed your own answer to your own question, or the very fact of your asking your question, none are the consequence of your free will, but all are determined by factors beyond your (or my) control.

Whatever is the point then is as much an illusion as the very nature of free will is an illusion.

That is the problem.  If the nature of any true philosophical inquiry (even the nature of asking the question 'what is the point') must require free will, and yet the tool one uses to answer one's inquiry is wholly deterministic, then the tool is incapable of determining why one asked the question.
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #36 on: 28/12/2005 16:45:37 »
Suffice it to say then, that there is just no clear answer to 'does free will exist ?'...if it is impossible for us to determine one way or another then I am happy to just carry on living in my paradoxical highway of life !!

For the record..I choose to believe there is free will, even if I have been programmed to post this at this very time. And if it is all predermined then it's a fine bit of programming.

I would have thought that there may be allowances for some flexibility of thought, even if the choice of choices have been chosen for us.

Men are the same as women.... just inside out !!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #37 on: 28/12/2005 17:24:14 »
quote:
If, along your journey from London to Bristol, you choose to stop off at a service station, the free will model would simply look at that as a personal choice. That same 'choice' would be viewed by the scientific model, and questions would be asked as to what caused that choice. Such questions could in the first instance be answered by issues that may have guided your choice, such as the amount of fuel you had in your car, and the when you had breakfast, etc., but none of these could be a complete scientific answer. The only totally complete scientific answer would have to take into account all the biological processes in your body, until it comes to the conclusion that given the state of these biological processes, and the environment the occurred in, the fact that you would stop at that service station became not a matter of free choice, but a matter of biological inevitability within that environment.


Whilst I agree with this to a certain extent, and it does have a degree of validity, I believe there are such things as totally random choices. I remember a few years ago I went to a funfair. There was a feature there called The Sphinx. Inside was a maze that was in total darkness. At each junction I had to make a choice as to which direction to take. There was no outside stimulus to influence my choice and it seems to me to be stretching imagination to believe that each choice of direction I made was decided by pre-determined factors.
 

Offline neilep

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #38 on: 28/12/2005 17:57:40 »
If free will does not exist then why should it be so that we would ask the question in the first place ?...what kind of cooky programming is that ?

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Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #39 on: 28/12/2005 18:18:51 »
If the whole Earth is a cosmic computer program, it was probably written by Microsoft considering the number of bugs there are! :D
 

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #40 on: 29/12/2005 00:32:00 »
quote:
Originally posted by DoctorBeaver
Whilst I agree with this to a certain extent, and it does have a degree of validity, I believe there are such things as totally random choices. I remember a few years ago I went to a funfair. There was a feature there called The Sphinx. Inside was a maze that was in total darkness. At each junction I had to make a choice as to which direction to take. There was no outside stimulus to influence my choice and it seems to me to be stretching imagination to believe that each choice of direction I made was decided by pre-determined factors.



No human action can ever (with current technology) be known to be truly random – it's difficult enough to devise hardware that one knows to be truly random, and it is generally assumed that all human behaviour will have some pattern to it (not necessarily a strict pattern, but will certainly show preferences).  I would also doubt that within the maze you were in a state of total sensory deprivation, and even blind people are subject to stimuli.

That having been said, as realmswalker pointed out, even if the actions were totally random, it would not follow that it would amount to free will.  We would not assign the notion of free will to a quantum particle.  Also, if someone performed random physical motions, we would not normally ascribe such motions to free will, but conversely we would probably suggest that they had lost the wilful control of their bodies.  I think we more normally attribute free will to directed actions than we would to random actions.
 

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Re: Does free will exist?
« Reply #40 on: 29/12/2005 00:32:00 »

 

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