Free Will | INFJ Forum

Free Will

Discussion in 'Psychology and MBTI' started by Milon, Feb 22, 2009.

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  1. Milon

    Milon Director of Glomps
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    I've got a question for people who don't believe in any God/spirituality. If all that exists is the "material world" - energy and matter - then where does free will fit in? If people are only matter and energy, then their minds are only matter and energy. In effect, people would just be glorious organic robots driven by chemical cause and effect. If we understood well enough the processes of the brain (and assuming you had a way access the current state of a brain), you'd be able to predict - and therefore control - the thoughts and behaviours of another person.

    What I'm trying to say is that if you don't believe in some kind of spiritual reality to our existance, can you believe in free will?
     
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  2. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    People control the thoughts and behaviours of others all the time.

    If we are organic robots we can still do whatever we want, in fact more so than if we have gods telling us what to do.
     
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  3. OP
    Milon

    Milon Director of Glomps
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    I'm not trying to say God dictates our actions; merely that if the physical universe is all there is, then your thoughts are just one chemical process after another - a reliable, predictable system. Cause and effect. That's what I mean by robot. Does anyone get what I'm asking?
     
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  4. darkstar

    darkstar Community Member

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    Yes, I get what you are saying. We are basically organic computers then.

    What if computers believe that they have free will? What if they think that the instructions they receive are their free will?
     
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  5. OP
    Milon

    Milon Director of Glomps
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    Then they are sadly mistaken. :wink: Even the "random" number generators are strict logic programs. They are just good at logically, objectively, uncaringly outputting numbers from an even distribution. Given enough data and understanding, you can predict every single operation a computer will do. People are different, and so I conclude there is more to the universe than just the physical reality.
     
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  6. darkstar

    darkstar Community Member

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    Random functions are strictly logical yes, and if you don't seed the randomizer then every time you run the application, the program will give you the same results. So what you do is you seed the randomizer with the current clock time in milliseconds. This offsets the algorithm so that in theory, ever time you run the application, the numbers will be different.

    So in a computer, the only truly "random" element is the millisecond that the user runs the application.

    Heh, this was probably irrelevant, but I wanted to show off :p (being a programmer and all) lol.
     
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  7. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    The human mind is more complex than any computer we have so far, and each mind is unique, I can't imagine it being awfully predictable or reliable.
     
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  8. PsilocinProject

    PsilocinProject Community Member

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    The human mind is controlled by chemicals and electrical impulses. One could argue that the arrangement of the atoms pre-Big Bang actually predetermines every single moment of our existence.
     
  9. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    You sure could, all I'm saying is that
    is not exactly easy.
     
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  10. Zanshin

    Zanshin Community Member

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    Well, people are actually pretty predictable. There are many situations where people are predictable given past history of previous interactions. For example, if you were to get on an elevator with everyone facing away from the door towards the back, there's a large chance you will do the same. There's studies on social pressures like this, which conclude that many people follow suit. Another example is there was this study where there were, say, ten people, one of which was the subject and the rest were in on it. They were given a simple task of identifying which line was bigger and one was clearly bigger than the other. The subject went last and all nine of the others said the line that was clearly shorter than the other line was larger. When it was the subjects turn, most of them went with the group and agreed. Social pressures like that are just one area of predictable outcomes for humans. There are many behavioral things that are just as predictable or more predictable. If someone was conditioned at an early age that they were failures at everything, then when they were presented with new challanges, they would find a way to not tackle these challanges. Or when they completed these challanges they would have a very low opinion of whatever it was they were doing. There's tons of situations like this everyday. Think of the closest people you know. You can typically predict how they will react to what is said or a certain situation. INFJs are usually prone to predicting these things well too.

    With all of that aside, I believe there are almost too many variables to accurately predict someone's actions 100% of the time, or even more than 2/3 of the time. People are constantly in different states of mind and learning and evolving everyday, so it's hard to pinpoint what someone will do.

    As far as freewill, I think it exists, but it takes a lot of discipline to do what you want and go against some of the emotions/logic that are inhibiting you. These are the things that cause predictability.

    The brain is a mysterious organ at the moment and there's a lot more too it than we know. I do believe there is a spiritual existence as well as a God, but I don't know that that has much to do with freewill. I just think we are very complex in most cases. I feel like i'm writing a paper so I'll stop lol
     
  11. alcyone

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    In order to accurately predict what any person would do, in terms of the chemical and electrical stimuli, it seems to me you'd have to know exactly the quantity of chemical a persons brain releases, the concentration, the sensitivity of the receptors, the conductivity of the neuro transmitters....you'd have to take all of those variables into consideration and into your calculations.

    Because we are organic, we are susceptible to alteration by our environments.
     
  12. IndigoSensor

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    I have thought about this before. In theory, yes it would mean we have no free will. However, I do not think so.

    Strictly from a chemical standpoint, we are so so so so so much more complex then a simple computer, many more pieces go into us then a circut board. We in essence have control over our own chemical systems if we really try. I mean, look at people who meditate at an intense level. They can alter their physical and chemical processes.

    Really, even if we exclude god, we still have free will.
     
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  13. OP
    Milon

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    Let's say there was no God/spiritual existence. The Big Bang happens, incredible energy is released, matter forms, and coelesces. Let's also say that life never happens within the universe. With enough understanding of physics, an observer external to the universe (please don't think about that too hard - I'm being hypothetical) could predict exactly how things would unfold. Where matter would go, what velocity it would have, where stars and planets would form, when different systems would collide, etc. So throw life back into the equation. How is life anything but a series of highly specialized chemical reactions - also predictable and understandbale - unless you allow for something beyond matter and energy, something with a will. Honestly, the most common response I've gotten to this is "life is complex, therefore we have free will." That doesn't make sense to me however, and I would like a plausible alternate explanation if one exists. No one likes the idea that you don't have free will, but so many people are willing to disregard that which gives you free will. </rant>
     
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  14. the

    the Si master race.
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    I've used this scenario in a calvinism v. armenianism debate before and I think is is a very effective arguement for both religious and secular free will discussions.


    *edit*

    In hindsight I guess I havent added anything to the discussion, I was just showing off while congratulating someones good point. Sorry.
     
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    #14 the, Feb 23, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
  15. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    Define what "free will" is and I could probably help you more.

    If you mean the classical "free will vs determinism" debate, then God isn't necessary to believe in free will. In fact, I don't see how God comes into this besides what the bible claims about people being born with free will.

    Plus, there are more ways of looking at it then "robot vs living, breathing organism." You've painted an ugly face on the opposite point of view here. A lot of determinists are soft determinists, basically saying that our inclinations and situations are not always by choice...but we still are responsible for making the choice that we do.
     
  16. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    Not according to quantum theories. :)
     
  17. OP
    Milon

    Milon Director of Glomps
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    Yes! I was hoping Duty would show up, and I was hoping someone would bring up quantum physics. Double score! :D

    I did paint a bit of an ugly picture there; kind of intentional - I wanted a good response, and I haven't gotten one in other similar discussions.

    As for free will, I'd like to know what degree of free will is possible in a totally materialistic universe. I honestly don't see how such a universe can be anything but a completely deterministic system. The reason I keep coming back to some kind of spirituality is because it allows something beyond cause-effect matter to happen. I don't mean God has to pull strings and make changes. I mean people have a spirit, and that spirit is not bound by the physical responses the body is. The spirit can freely decide what to do or not do, and since the spirit inhabits the body it can influence the body's actions too. Having said that, I don't have a good understanding of quantum physics either, so please enlighten me on both counts - both the degree/quality of free will possible and how quantum theories play into this.
     
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  18. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Say if all our actions were predictable/reliable/predetermined even, and there is no free will, the thought of there being no free will is abhorrent, but something being abhorrent doesn't make it any less true. You can't just believe in spirituality because it makes things seem a bit more pleasant, that's delusion.
     
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  19. Duty

    Duty Permanent Fixture

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    It's hard to say how much "free will" is possible, or if it's even necessary. The whole debate in my opinion is pointless as no side can be proven right. If you say, "Well, see, look, I have the choice to drink this water or not!" then the determinist would just tell you that by your psychological makeup caused you to notice the glass and connect it to your argument, and then whether you actually drank it or not was determined by the same.

    Quantum physics, or my understanding of it at least, doesn't prove free will either (and honestly, I'm not that knowledgeable on quantum physics, I just started my self education in physics and quantum is graduate level stuff...). There is so much about the natural world left to explore that physics trying to explain metaphysics in this case just won't work.

    This whole debate would be, in my opinion, inconclusive at best. There is no way to prove we have free will, there is no way to prove we don't. The same goes for determinism. If the world is completely deterministic, and we have knowledge of all physical laws, and a supercomputer sophisticated enough to do it: it does seem likely that we could know every event that has ever happened and predict all to come.


    And before it's pointed out that if the world is completely deterministic, then no one can be held ethically accountable, think about this:

    Say there is a faulty screw in your house that causes a light fixture of some sort to fall on somebody's head. Is that light fixture or screw morally bad? Of course not, it's just physics that caused that. However, don't you still remove the screw/light fixture? If it's dangerous you still remove it and fix it. So if a person is dangerous, you remove them from harming others, and hopefully rehabilitate them back to a state they won't hurt others.

    In addition, believing in something because the opposite has unfavorable consequences is a fallacy anyways: Appeal to consequences (In fact, I reread the article and found one of the examples: "Free will must exist: if it didn't, we would all be machines.")
     
    #19 Duty, Feb 23, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2009
  20. Quinlan

    Quinlan Right the First Time!

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    Ohh that's what I meant in my last post, thanks for the link.
     
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