Do humans have free will?

by Realist 32 Replies latest jw friends

  • rem

    I'm reading Conciousness Explained, by Daniel Dennet right now. It's pretty interesting and it deals with this topic of free will. This book makes my brain hurt, but it's cool how many experiments have been performed on how the brain works and the questions these raise. I, too, think that free will is an illusion of the brain, just as after you stop spinning you have the illusion that the room is still spinning even though you are stationary, or the illusion that two lights that blink in succession actually look like one light moving from one spot to the other, and can even change color in between in a sort of precognitive way. Really interesting stuff!


  • Guest 77
  • Guest 77
    Guest 77

    Yes, I have free will but with limitations.These limitations serve as a protection.

    Guest 77

  • funkyderek
    Like Murder for example:Lets say some dude is going to commit a murder. We are told that we are going to. But once we are forwarned about the murder, can we choose not to do it? but now that we are forwarned, and we choose not to do it, that computer would know that we would choose not to do it, so It wouldn't forwarn us, but then we could still do it, because the only reason why we didn't do it was that we were forwarned, so we would do it, but then we would be forwarned about doing it....WOAH!!! too much thinking...

    What you have to realise in this situation is that the computer predicting the future is part of the universe and must factor it's own actions in to any equations. Unfortunately, this is impossible (due to Godel's Incompleteness Theorem or something similar) but a computer outside the universe (or far enough away not to affect anything) would predict the events as they actually occur, including the other computer's (erroneous) predictions.

  • Jayson

    Realist, Excellent philosophical question. "Free will and determinism are like a game of cards. The hand that it dealt you represents determinism. The way you play your hand represents free will." Jayson

  • larc

    Jayson, Just to make this more complicated. I would add this to your comment. You said: the cards you are dealt is determinism. How you play the cards is free will. I would say that the way you play the cards after the first hand is based on the out come, and how others played the cards. Therefore, your second play of the cards and every hand after that, is deterministic in origin.

  • unclebruce

    Yes to a quite limited extent humans have free will ... but not us who post on jwd - we're drawn back time and time again by dark mysterious forces

  • onacruse

    Ahhh, Newton and Liebnitz face off again! It's amazing how often venerable mathematicians and physicists had much deeper philosophical questions at heart, even as they sometimes simultaneously formulated their supposedly "dry" theories. Cause vs. effect, relativity vs. quantum mechanics, localism vs. universalism (read also "and" with each "vs."), and thus on to the Grand Unified Theory (GUT) of the physical universe and the GUTs of philosophy.

    Realist, as you know, the precise statement of the question is perhaps the most difficult step. For the purposes of this discussion: exactly what do we mean by "free" and "will," and by the combined phrase "free will?" As larc points out, "free" may have a temporal and/or subsequential factor. Rather like a differential equation describing a physical condition at a critical point; any of several alternative solutions are possible, but once a "path" has been chosen, the consequential events are limited to a particular field of solutions. And "will," as the term is commonly used, implies a self-aware determinative ability to alter present (and therefore future) events. So, are we to take "free will" as meaning "the unlimited ability to make self-determinations that will have an infinite number of future consequences"?


    PS: In answer to a question you asked on another thread--Katie is bikerchic. We married last Xmas, and are living in Portland, OR.

  • Realist

    thank you all for the interesting comments!


    sorry for stating as is just the opinion held by most scientists working in the field.


    funny that you started a similar thread already 2 years ago.

    you mentioned that you are a scientist...may i ask in what field?

    in the end you talked about opening the door for blaming others by stating that free will does not exist. i don't think this possibility should lead us to ignoring the facts.


    with "free" i do not necessarily mean the outside pressure we are under in a certain situation but the decisions taken by our brain because of internal settings...such as anxiety, fear, etc.

    free will would require a mind not connected with the physical world. something that can make independent decisions not based on the history of the person or the genetic makeup. since such an "mind" does not exist and all our decisions are taken by our braincells free will cannot exist but is only an illusion. we are basically highly complex computers with millions or billions of parameters set...and in the end we make "if - else" decisions based on the setting of these parameters.

  • rem

    Maybe only individual atoms have free will? The only place we see un-caused (or maybe self-caused?) events today is at the quantum level. Atoms 'choose' when they emit radioactive particles (photons?). It cannot be predicted when a specific atom will do this, though we do know the half-life or decay rate of the group of atoms. Also, virtual particles can just jump into existence with no cause. Are they self-caused? Who knows? QM makes my brain hurt.


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