Free Will

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Free Will
« on: 23/05/2006 23:31:56 »
Our behaviour seems to always be determined by past occurrences, the present situation, the presence of an authority figure (e.g. the Milgram experiment), our upbringing, genetics, etc. Is there any room left for free will? Consider crime, for instance. Men commit more crime overall, and more violent crime. Could genetics and/or upbringing be responsible for this disparity? And then there are specific and interesting cases of a loss of moral control over one's actions, such as the case of Phineus Gage, who had a tamping iron blast through the frontal part of his brain, or the cancer patient who suddenly developed (or at least manifested where no such behaviour was seen before) pedophilia.
Are we simply machines, as Leonardo Da Vinci's work suggested, or much more? I can only think of evidence against free will. Is there any in support of it?
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.


Offline rosy

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Re: Free Will
« Reply #1 on: 23/05/2006 23:46:07 »
Hmm-mm. I don't think you can necessarily "test" for free will as such since there is no possibility of a fully controlled test.. you're always going to be open to the possibility that some incident of upbringing or interaction of genes will have some wholly unpredictable effect, there's no possibility of a fully controlled trial with people, but I do think that it is important/inevitable that society behaves as if free will existed, since part of the "upbringing" effect you mention above is down to the fact of an awareness that doing Bad Things (for whatever society happens to define as bad at the time, which varies somewhat) will be met with a Bad effect... which depends on a belief in free will.

Since this isn't in the general chat area I should probably observe that little or none of this relates to science, and I have no background in sociology other than living in society..
Of course, it is sensible to take into account genetic and environmental factors in determining the bad outcome for offenders since the main aim of any punishment must be to minimise further offending both by the current and future offenders and for rehabilitation to work it's going to help to know what you're dealing with (if theft is to fuel a drug habit it makes sense if it leads to a term in prison and/or community service along with drug rehab etc etc).
« Last Edit: 23/05/2006 23:52:02 by rosy »