Assignment: "Freewill" (Pro/Con)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Gatekeeper, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    The purpose of this thread (In part) is to have a civil and amicable discussion on the often emotionally charged topic of "freewill". I ask that before you make your case "Pro" or "Con" to please do the following.


    1. View issue from both angles
    2. Identify potential problems
    3. Separate fact from opinion
    4. Analyze information gathered
    5. Choose your side
    6. Restrain emotions
    7. Proceed with your case (Pro or Con)

    Sounds like fun, right? :p Here's the catch, no outside sources are to be utilized for making your case. The entire discussion must be based entirely on our own personal convictions. I'll make my case first to get us started. Those of you participating should follow up with your own point of view (Pro or Con) but in response to my initial posting on the issue as follows:



    Stance:
    "Con" (Free will does not exist)


    “Freewill is essentially defined as being able to make choices not determined by prior causes, or is the ability to make a choice free of external and/or other physical forces.”



    One thing I think we can agree on is that we are ultimately driven by our desires. I submit that we will always, no matter what, choose that which we desire most. I suggest that our every choice is determined by what we desire, as well as by our life circumstance and it is because of this that I feel free will choice does not truly exist.


    Although we make choices daily I believe these choices are far from being “free”. Before we are able to choose, we must first have a desire for something. The truth of the matter is that desire will always be present before we make a conscious choice/decision.


    Many variables play a role in what we desire in life, such as where we were raised, how we were raised, what we have experienced, and our current life situation. All these variables play a role in who we are and the decisions we make.


    We like to think that we choose freely, but the choices we make are dependent upon both internal and external factors (Past and present) so when we make a choice we are simply acting and reacting to life according to our strongest desires and in a manner that we feel is best for us in any given situation.



    To give a "revised" analogy:



    Imagine that you are on a ship and that you are the Captain of that ship. Life itself is the force moving the ship forward. It pushes the ship, giving it momentum, but you are guiding the ship yourself. You are at the helm navigating your way around the ocean, but many things play a part in your decision making.


    Just like a change of wind direction would motivate you to re-arrange the sails, or the light of a lighthouse would motivate you to change direction to prevent you from hitting the rock strewn shore.


    You navigate the ship the best you know how, only you do so in accordance to your circumstances, in accordance to each obstacle you face as you move forward. You ultimately guide the ship, but it is life circumstance that causes you to make the changes in navigation.”



    Life circumstance determines what we desire most, and it is our desires that drive our decisions. No matter what we choose, it is because we desire 'something'. Free will is having the ability to act voluntarily in any given situation, BUT [if] we are driven by our desires, then we are not actually acting voluntarily, but rather we are acting the only way we are able, predetermined by our strongest desire at that particular moment.




    By the way, this is also (In part) a project for school. We are to attempt to resolve a conflict using critical analysis, objectivity, logic, and factual information. Whether or not we agree in the end is of little concern. The meat of the assignment is getting me to actually think critically.

    I used the issue of free will because I am familiar with both sides of the argument (At least a little) being that I once believed in freewill, and did my best to hold on to that belief. Now I'm on the other side of the fence doing my best to convey my understanding of the concept as I see it today.


    Thanks for your help,


    GK
     
  2. OAT

    OAT Where is the TAO?

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    I am on the "con" side, but I may have an argument for the "pro" side.

    Assumption: Freewill exists because one can make random choices.

    Imagine that you are asked to choose between a red paper and a green paper. Assume that as far as you are aware, you have no preference whatsoever between a red paper and a green paper. The choice that you make as far as you are concerned is random. Therefore you have made a choice free of any forces. Therefore you have freewill.

    How would you argue against this?
     
  3. Sam Albion

    Sam Albion akaFrancisKing:ViveLeRoi!

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    free will exists because, knowing all the facts, options, variables, man can still decide to do do utterly foolish things without being immediately rent through with bolts of lightening...
     
  4. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    I might argue that simply viewing the colored paper caused a mental reaction, which ultimately determined which colored paper was desired. Also, the very fact that you chose one over the other proves that you desired to choose the one you chose, and if desire truly drives our decisions, then the choices we make are ultimately "predetermined" by what we desire most in any given situation.

    We do not make random decisions, we choose according to our strongest desire in any given situation. Our choices may not be sensible, but they are determined by what we desire most. If a person desires to spin in circles and then choose to suddenly drop to the ground, it may seem like a random choice, but that choice was ultimately driven and decided by desire.
     
  5. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    freewill: pro

    We can choose something other than our stongest desire. This illusion of no free will is achieved simply by defining the cause of the choice as being the strongest desire. However, the victory does not always go to the strongest or to the swiftest.
     
  6. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    Thanks for playing, seattlegal. :) Can you give an example of choosing something other than our strongest desire?
     
  7. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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  8. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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  9. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    Very good point! However, her intentions were to grab the syrup, and her desire was to grab the syrup, but she mistakenly (Not by choice) grabbed the coffee instead. It wasn't her choice to grab the coffee, it was simply a mistaken action. In other words, it was not a freewill choice to pour coffee on her pancakes.

    We are not perfect, thus we are prone to make mistakes and it is our mistakes that make us human and not robots. Have you ever pondered the idea that the best lessons learned are those that involve us "missing the mark"?

    GK
     
  10. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    hmm...
    I do believe that the coffee pancakes demonstrates the inaccuracy of the of the above "philosopher's stone." Try again. :)
     
  11. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    LOL! Missed this earlier:
    LOL, is the youtube clip of the lady pouring coffee on her pancakes considered an "outside source" instead of my own personal conviction? :p
     
  12. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    Nice!! I will rephrase the thought, "One thing I think we can agree on is that we are ultimately driven by our desires. We will always, no matter what make choices according to our strongest desires, but our choices will not always reflect our intentions. This does not suggest that we have freewill, it merely suggests that we are imperfect creatures and prone to make mistakes. A mistake is not a freewill choice. A mistake is a freewill choice gone wrong"

    GK
     
  13. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    No worries, that was a great mental exercise for me, haha! :p
     
  14. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    So we have free-will now? If a mistake is a freewill choice gone wrong, then we must have freewill choice that goes right, otherwise everything is a mistake. :p
     
  15. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    Nice catch! Lets try this again, geesh!! lmao! :D

    "One thing I think we can agree on is that we are ultimately driven by our desires. We will always, no matter what make choices according to our strongest desires, but our choices will not always reflect our intentions. This does not suggest that we have freewill, it merely suggests that we are imperfect creatures and prone to make mistakes. A mistake is not a freewill choice. A mistake is simply a desired and intended choice gone wrong"

    Is that any better? :p
     
  16. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    Is desire involved in our reflexively pulling our hand away from something hot we intended to grab?

    I would say this action is not driven by desire.
     
  17. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    This is an instinctual and reflexive action, but the underlying desire could very well be to avoid getting burned. Our thoughts process could possibly move quicker than we can consciously keep up, so even if you fail to recognize your desire initially, the desire to avoid getting burned could very well be the underlying factor for the reflexive removal of your hand. This would of course become more evident the longer that hot something remained in your grasp.

    Even if this is not the case, our reflexive actions are not necessarily a product of choice, but of instinctual necessity, so in reality this scenario has nothing to do with the freedom to choose. You admittedly suggested that no conscious choice is made in such a scenario, so this example is pretty much moot when it comes to the issue of freewill.
     
  18. seattlegal

    seattlegal Why do cows say mu?

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    OK, now we come to the point where we have to distinguish between "desire" and "intention." Desire means "want, craving." Intention means "An act or instance of determining mentally upon some action or result."

    Case in point: the monkey trap. Put a bottle with a piece of fruit that will barely fit within the bottle in an area where monkeys frequent. When a monkey sees the fruit in the bottle, he will desire the fruit, and put his hand inside the bottle to grab the fruit. However, the monkey will not be able to pull his hand out of the bottle while it is grasping the fruit. However, the monkey can be free by letting go of the fruit. If the monkey does not have the capacity to mentally determine this, he cannot be free. The monkey is trapped by his desire.

    Being able to let go of unfruitful desires takes will-power. :cool:
     
  19. Gatekeeper

    Gatekeeper Shades of Reason

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    Actually, it takes coming to an understanding of what needs to be done, and then having a desire to do it, which is why missing the mark and mistakes are so darned valuable (We eventually learn from experience).
     
  20. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I know what you’re saying GK, but I do not think it is possible to not utilise outside sources as you put it. We are each a part of this universe, always have been and always will. So how do I separate my “self” (not utilising “outside” sources) from every moment of my life’s experience so far as part of this universe? More simply, how do I remove my past influences and gained “knowledge” from my thinking (and hence, speech)?

    On this definition, I would say that free will does not exist. But this is a very hard determinist definition…


    s.
     

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