JCC If you don't believe in free will, you are bad and should feel bad

Discussion in 'Community' started by ophelia, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    Apparently reading a treatise against the existence of free will makes people more likely to cheat, less likely to help others, and more likely to put unwanted hot sauce in someone else's food.

    Just speaking personally, Taco Bell gave me too much Fire sauce last week, and determinist Senate regulars, I am looking at you.

    Oh, yes. At you.

    The news isn't entirely one-sided, though. It seems that being exposed to arguments against free will also makes people less likely to be vindictive ****heads.

    So what do you think about this? I have identified several possible responses, which I would have made a poll out of if it were possible to put a poll at the BOTTOM of a freaking opening post.

    The responses are:

    1) These conclusions are flawed. I myself am both a determinist and deeply moral. Plus believing in free will makes you a vindictive ****head.

    2) The conclusions are valid. Believing in free will obviously makes you a morally superior person. And don't call me a vindictive ****head!

    3) Believing in free will might make you nicer, but it's more important to acknowledge the truth of determinism than to be a nice guy.

    4) Believing in free will clearly has practical benefits for society, so it's a good idea to believe in it.

    5) I believe in free will and enjoy being a vindictive ****head.

    6) I am a determinist and enjoy your extra Fire sauce. Ha ha ha ha.

    7) I am @Quixotic-Sith and Compatibilism blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

    8) I am an attention whore and need to be unique. I think something else.
  2. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

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    There are actually people who don't believe in free will?
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  3. Darth Tunes SfC Part III Commissioner

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    Hot sauce in my food would never (well, maybe) be unwanted.
  4. JediTerminator Force Ghost

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    You can have absolute free will without being a jerk. When you think there are only 2 options for a situation, in reality there is 3,1416 options.
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  5. Ender Sai Chosen One

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    Determinism is nice until you meet quantum mechanics.
  6. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    Of course there are. Lots of them. Some point to scientific principles as the ultimate cause of people's actions, others are more about supernatural "fate," or a confluence of socioeconomic forces. You'd be surprised.

    And JediTerminator, I'll put that down as an option #8.

    Edit: @Ender_Sai I'll play the devil's advocate and say that at the molecular scale, which is where the business of our electrochemical brain processes lie, Newtonian physics is firmly in control.
    Last edited by ophelia, Jan 20, 2014
  7. JediTerminator Force Ghost

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    Yes, because quantum mechanics is unpredictable.
  8. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

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    Totes brutal math test. Truly separating the adults from the children there.

    Edit: Anyway Strawson's Basic Argument 4lyfe.
    Last edited by Ramza, Jan 20, 2014
  9. JediTerminator Force Ghost

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    Did you "choose" to do that or did cosmic forces lead you to do that?
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  10. Frank T. Force Ghost

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    If we don't have free will then why all the laziness?
  11. Ender Sai Chosen One

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    So then, determinism only exists because we assert it does?

    Using photons as an example, and I'm no scientist so I'll be alarmingly lay-person here, it would suggest there is in fact no order at which events plan out and spontaneity governs all. I'm referring to the experiment to shine a beam of light at a surface and map the individual photons impacting said surface. The photons follow no discernible pattern and will not repeat their behavior under identical conditions. The cause for their "behavior" remains unknown and unknowable.

    Basically what you seem to be suggesting is that we see determinism because we see it, i.e. it exists because we retrospectively conclude it.
  12. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    It doesn't really matter. Nobody is going to settle the question of whether free will exists here. I'd rather keep all options on the table.

    What matters is the practical and ethical consequences of what I believe. I prefer to believe in free will, actually, but I freely admit that the logical underpinnings for my belief are nil. I choose to believe in free will because I don't want to live in a world where it doesn't exist. It's a sort of Pascal's Wager . . . choosing a belief based on a desired outcome, and not on any kind of intrinsic proof. Maybe that's a legitimate way of going about things, and maybe it's not.

    Edit: We seem to have no hard determinists here, so I'll just fill in their usual arguments. :p There indeed must be unpredictable actions going on in our brains on a subatomic level, but as far as we know, everything that we consider "consciousness" occurs through the interactions of structures much, much larger than that. The mere fact that we exist as more-or-less stable entities is due to the fact that predictable, repeatable chemical processes are going on inside us at all times.
    Last edited by ophelia, Jan 20, 2014
  13. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    You're misunderstanding how that works. Quantum mechanics supersedes Newtonian physics as the dominant model in all things. There is no line at which QM stops being relevant. Newtonian is just an approximation of QM.
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Jan 20, 2014
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  14. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    I thought that for all intents and purposes, Newtonian physics took over at a planck's length? Which is why subatomic particles may simultaneously be at all points in the universe, but I am still seated firmly in my chair?
  15. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    Ender, you misunderstand ophelia's point. She's not arguing that we can feel free to ignore quantum mechanics. She's pointing out that the randomness observed at that level does not translate more macro scales. Do you know why classical physics took so long to be overturned, and why no one expected the quantum results? Because the classical model worked. At every scale but the quantum one, it still works. We aren't "making up" that F=ma. That's true. You can demonstrate it mathematically and theoretically, for both visible objects and atoms. We don't just "think" that Earth's standard acceleration due to gravity is g= 9.80665 m/s^(2). That's what it is. Drop something on Earth and do the math, you'll keep getting this number. That's why it's called a constant.

    None of these relationships could be consistently modeled if the random results observed at the quantum level translated into equally random results on larger scales. But they don't. In the same way, the random results of quantum reactions don't translate into random results in your brain either.

    EDIT: I guess we'll wait for Lord of Vivec to rule on this post.
    Last edited by Jabba-wocky, Jan 20, 2014
  16. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    It doesn't take over. It's just the best approximation of quantum mechanics at the macroscopic scale. It gives the correct results, but so would quantum mechanics. Therefore you can't forget that the Newtonian model is an approximation of quantum mechanics (which in turn is an approximation of quantum field theory at slow speeds). At the end of the day, QFT is the most accurate theory.
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Jan 20, 2014
  17. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    Well, all right. I'll accept that. But does that address Ender's assertion that quantum indeterminacy equals a window that allows for the existence of free will? I think it does not . . . I've never seen an adequate scientific footing for belief in free will. I believe in it myself as a kind of Absurd act . . . only because not to believe in it would be unbearable.
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  18. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    Was that his assertion? If you ask me, quantum indeterminacy generally points to hard indeterminism/chaos, not libertarianism/compatablism/determinism. But I generally caution basing philosophy on science.
    Last edited by Lord Vivec, Jan 20, 2014
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  19. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    @Lord of Vivec she wants you to say something about my response to Ender Sigh you dork. That is the issue. Do the chaotic results at the quantum level necessarily preclude non-random outcomes on larger scales?
    Last edited by Jabba-wocky, Jan 20, 2014
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  20. Rosslcopter Jedi Grand Master

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    Unbearable? Sounds like...you have no choice in the matter then, eh?
  21. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    @Jabba-wocky: You half right. At the macroscopic scale the indeterminacy doesn't show itself, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Take, for example, that energy is quantized. At the atomic scale it's very easy to show that energy states being discrete. At the macroscopic level, however, it looks like energy is continuous. It's doesn't show itself. But, if we were able to measure energy with enough precision/accuracy, we would see quantized energy. The difference in energy levels are just too small to notice, but they're still there.

    Quantum effects are there in the macroscopic world. They're just really hard to see. What does that mean for Free Will? Hell if I know. I really only joined this conversation at the point QM vs Newtonian was brought up.
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  22. Darth Guy Chosen One

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    I can never remember if Crick was the racist one.
  23. ophelia Cards Against Humanity Host. Ex-Mod

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    I might not, but at least if I don't, I'll never know the difference. :p

    Where does hard indeterminacy lead in ethical terms, Vivec? I take it that no true free will is involved . . . is there any room for a moral code there?
    Last edited by ophelia, Jan 20, 2014
  24. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    That's Watson.
  25. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    It has always been my position that this debate doesn't actually matter. Whether or not we in fact do have free will, we certainly have the illusion or the appearance thereof. In most schools of ethics I am aware of, a person who is laboring under false pretenses is only responsible for acting within the constraints of the knowledge they actually have. That is to say, people are generally not held accountable for information they did not know. Conversely, sting operations are seen as legitimate because they reveal how the person would have acted; even though the situation is not real, the person in question does not know that, and you can therefore judge him because his acts, in effect, were, even if no one else's were. By way of analogy, then, even if we as individuals have no free will, we can judge ourselves as being good or bad on the basis of the choices we seem to make, because those choices are made under the impression that we are in fact "choosing" them. Thus, the actual reality of the situation cannot relieve of us of the responsibility to act ethically.