Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by Pyrmon, Mar 24, 2011.

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1. ### PyrmonBurnin' Monkey Love

Member
3
Sep 25, 2010
Montreal
Today, my friend and I engaged in a small debate. My friend thinks that freewill does not exist. He says that our personalities are based completely on our genes and our past experiences and that those represent a very large number of variables. He thinks that if we could compute all of those variables, we would be able to predict exactly how a person would react in a given situation. Because of that, he says that there is no such thing as freewill, because people simply react to situations and make choices according to these variables. What do you think about it?

2. ### SlyakinSee ya suckers

Member
2
Oct 15, 2008
Soviet Slyakin
Oh god. Oh god. Not something like this on a forum like this.

...

On topic: I think we have free-will. Just sayin'.

Member
2
Jul 26, 2008
I think that's true.
I don't really think 'random' (aka freewill as in making choices) exist. Everything can be calculated, no matter how hard to calculate. (for example, do you prefer to go right. Or left in a situation you should pick between those two. The calculation for that could be 500.000.000.000 lines long )

Though, even though everything 'can' be calculated. There are SO MANY variables counting, that it might look random. For example, if you see a dog or not can influence your decision of going right, or left. Or even seeing a leaf or not. I think all of that somehow influences pretty much everything you decide

4. ### JugarinaGBAtemp Fan

Member
1
Mar 17, 2011
NY
Well although this reasoning sounds scientific I don't agree with him. I think the Nazi's thought in a similar fashion and that didn't work out well for any party's involved.

5. ### Blaze163The White Phoenix's purifying flame.

Member
6
Nov 19, 2008
Coventry, UK
Only I control my life. Not some crazy calculation or any outside influence for that matter. I believe in free will. Provided you're not using it to behave like a complete bell end. In which case I'm gonna have to take it away.

Member
2
Sep 3, 2010
??

prove it

7. ### IkkiGBATemp's grumpy panda.

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2
Jun 1, 2010
Montevideo
I have free will. That's all I'll say.

Former Staff
17
Apr 4, 2006
Zagreb

9. ### PyrmonBurnin' Monkey Love

Member
3
Sep 25, 2010
Montreal
I don't understand what you mean.

10. ### mysticwaterfallStreamforce Supreme Commander

Member
4
Aug 11, 2008
Right behind you
Our decision making processes are inherently driven by life experiences, so in that sense, it limits the number of choices based on things like morals. On the other hand, you can never know how a certain person will react in a certain situation without having seen them in it before, because people tend to be unpredictable. You can only ever know how "most people" would "typically" react.

So in other words: Individual people have free will as limited by things like morals. Large groups of people tend to act in predictable patterns. I now will have to drop the obligatory Foundation reference for the Asimov fans and move on.

11. ### PyrmonBurnin' Monkey Love

Member
3
Sep 25, 2010
Montreal
I'm trying to find a way to explain to him that the human mind is far more complex than that. Anyone's got an idea?

12. ### Nathan DrakeObligations fulfilled, now I depart.

Member
11
Jan 2, 2011
Your friend sounds like one of those shitty science guys who is far too heavy on the math. Not everything in life can be "calculated." That is a ridiculous, single minded way of thinking. If he tries to say "prove it," tell him to prove that undoubtedly, God exists. You can't prove free will exists, nor can you truly say it doesn't.

For example: Do I eat because my body mandates that I need to, or am I eating because I was walking by and I thought, "hey, a sandwich sounds kinda good right now?" When I buy that food, do I go to a store because it's close and convenient, or do I go there because I have had enough good experiences to warrant repeated visits?

Decisions are generally careful and calculated in average situations, but arguing that every moment in life lacks free will is ridiculous. Hell, right now, I should be looking for colleges and such, but I choose not to even though I know should. One day, I could just decide when waking up, that it sounds like a good idea. Is your friend gonna tell me that was calculated and that he could define everything that led to that decision being made?

Shitty examples, but the point is there. Your friend is dumb.

13. ### omgpwn666Guy gamer and proud!

Member
4
Jun 14, 2008
Florida
Freedom of will exists, that's obvious. I'm not a violent person but if I wanted to I could punch my monitor until it breaks, I could go murder my brother, walk outside naked, go months without a shower, or eat old crud off the floor. I wont though unless someone pays me enough... Not the killing my brother part though. But someone could also say I wont do any of that because my built in calculations tell me not to, but that means that's the way they chose to see life. I chose to see it as freewill. It's only fair that we all have our own opinions. Kind of like people who call everything luck, I call it a blessing.

Member
1
Dec 23, 2008
Not to say I disagree with you (because I don't), but to play 'devils advocate' and to turn it around...
Do you NOT punch your monitor because you choose not to? Or because it's decided you wont?
And if you DID end up punching your monitor, was it because because of choice? or a predetermined action to give you the illusion of choice?

While I hate to reference "The Matrix" in a philosophical discussion, it is essentially the 'vase' scene: Would Neo have broken the vase if it wasn't told about it?

20
Oct 24, 2002
actually, scientifically free will doesn't exist.
the way our brain works can be explained by science; what leads us to making decisions (one of the aspects of "free will" as we understand it) is the result of chemical reactions that can be described and reproduced.

however it's obviously more reassuring to assume that you are free to do and think whatever you want; because the human brain in its whole is much more complex than what we'll ever be able to design (presumably)

16. ### Shinigami357Current "give a fuck" level: Honey Badger

Member
2
Jul 29, 2010
Ok, this is original. He says there is no such thing as free will? It's an interesting take on it, to be sure. Here are my arguments to the contrary:

[1] He does have a point about variables and stuff, but of course, that also means that the human psyche is quite literally unstable. I mean, unless you happen to be named Hannibal Lecter, studying a person and then identifying his next move, his motivation and all that is an exercise in futility. Simply put, humans are are such crazy SOB's trying to anticipate each and every one of their moves correctly is an inherent impossibility.
[2] The status quo, or rather, the ever-changing status quo. Seriously, if free will did not exist, USA will still be a British Colony, Philippines would still be rules by Spainiards, and I could seriously go on, but what's the point? I understand the whole oppressor vs the oppressed take on things, but standing up and fighting for something you believe in is a choice.
[3] I did mention believing, right? The ability to believe anything at all, is a matter of choice. You could do an in-depth profiling of people, and you'd still be surprised by the things they believe in. Also, if free will didn't exist, how do you think crooks and conmen make their living? I mean, seriously, no one in their right state of mind will believe a "invest \$1 and get OVER \$9000!!! back" offer, it's simply too good to be true, but people fall for it, because they choose to believe that what this person (that they do not even know) is telling them is the truth.
[4] Life (and Death) is a choice. Seriously, think about it: it is SO easy to kill yourself. Just find a window with a great view on a tall building (preferably over 20 stories high) and then jump down and let gravity do its thing (stupid outfits, badly written suicide notes and famous last words optional). Of course, suicide is also a choice, which means either way the fact that you are still breathing (or not) is because you choose to.
Disclaimer: When I talk about this whole Life & Death thing, of course I am not taking into consideration outside interference (like some dude writing names down on a little black notebook).

And that is my view on this topic. I welcome yours.

EDIT: Minor typos

17. ### Blaze163The White Phoenix's purifying flame.

Member
6
Nov 19, 2008
Coventry, UK
In order to prove that free will exists, I'm gonna go do something completely abnormal. So I'll be back in five minutes. I'm gonna go punch a squirrel.

18. ### NujuiI need something to do.

Member
3
Aug 12, 2010
Dreamland.
Wouldn't you have to catch it first? I'd think the squirrel would run away.

19. ### Nathan DrakeObligations fulfilled, now I depart.

Member
11
Jan 2, 2011
My science teachers have taught me that too heavy a reliance on math when looking at science is a good way to cloud your judgment. Not everything can be looked at from the standpoint of chemistry or genetics. There are many biological enigmas about the brain that nobody even pretends to understand. Without a full, complex understanding of the brain, you can't tell me that there is or isn't free will. Through life experience and personal belief, I say free will does exist and that we aren't just getting spit through the combine (yay for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).

20. ### omgpwn666Guy gamer and proud!

Member
4
Jun 14, 2008
Florida
But that's the point of the last thing I said. You can look at any situation the way you want to, that's the best part about life. If you want you can call it calculations or freewill. I was calculated to believe in freewill, or I chose to believe in freewill because of my freewill. I don't know if you get what I'm saying, but I don't believe scientist understand the mind as much as they think. You could say the same back at me, because it's true. I don't think anyone will ever 100% understand it, except our maker(s). (Talking about who ever your god is, if you believe in one of course)