Is Free Will Real or Just an Illusion?

25 May 2021 00:11 #360390 by Jedi_J
Is free will real or just an illusion?

Many philosophers say this instinct is wrong. According to their view, free will is a figment of our imagination. No one has it or ever will. Rather our choices are either determined—necessary outcomes of the events that have happened in the past—or they are random. It isn’t unheard of for philosophers to receive death threats. The Australian ethicist Peter Singer, for example, has received many, in response to his argument that, in highly exceptional circumstances, it might be morally justifiable to kill newborn babies with severe disabilities. But Strawson, like others on the receiving end of this particular wave of abuse, had merely expressed a longstanding position in an ancient debate that strikes many as the ultimate in “armchair philosophy”.
The debate over free will is one example in which our intuitions conflict with scientific and philosophical arguments. Something similar holds for intuitions about consciousness, morality, and a host of other existential concerns. Our codes of ethics, for example, assume that we can freely choose between right and wrong. In the Christian tradition, this is known as “moral liberty”—the capacity to discern and pursue the good, instead of merely being compelled by appetites and desires. The great Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant reaffirmed this link between freedom and goodness. If we are not free to choose, he argued, then it would make no sense to say we ought to choose the path of righteousness.
The difficulty in explaining the enigma of free will to those unfamiliar with the subject isn’t that it’s complex or obscure. It’s that the experience of possessing free will – the feeling that we are the authors of our choices – is so utterly basic to everyone’s existence that it can be hard to get enough mental distance to see what’s going on. “This sort of free will is ruled out, simply and decisively, by the laws of physics,” says one of the most strident of the free will sceptics, the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne. Leading psychologists such as Steven Pinker and Paul Bloom agree, as apparently did the late Stephen Hawking, along with numerous prominent neuroscientists, including VS Ramachandran, who called free will “an inherently flawed and incoherent concept”.
Arguments against free will go back millennia, but the latest resurgence of skepticism has been driven by advances in neuroscience during the past few decades. Now that it’s possible to observe – thanks to neuroimaging – the physical brain activity associated with our decisions, it’s easier to think of those decisions as just another part of the mechanics of the material universe, in which “free will” plays no role. Despite the criticism that this is all just armchair philosophy, the truth is that the stakes could hardly be higher. Were free will to be shown to be nonexistent – and were we truly to absorb the fact – it would “precipitate a culture war far more belligerent than the one that has been waged on the subject of evolution”, Harris has written. Arguably, we would be forced to conclude that it was unreasonable ever to praise or blame anyone for their actions, since they weren’t truly responsible for deciding to do them; or to feel guilt for one’s misdeeds, pride in one’s accomplishments, or gratitude for others’ kindness.
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25 May 2021 00:51 #360391 by Adder
Perhaps if its outside of being free choice it's not really will at all.
But seriously, I think it's a rabbit hole of chasing causality, did I already choose to be in place A which thus limited my options to choose from a set Ω, and weighted them in the order I have a history with! The best we could so is probably identify types of bias to exercise a bit more critical thinking skills where we think we might be fooling ourselves into a certain direction/approach/outcome.
Basically, illusory but not an illusion necessarily, if I had to guess.
As I think it would be wrong to automatically assert that because we mightn't be in full control over the choices we make, that it means we don't have any control over any choices we make.... as there are too many unknowns to reverse engineer that logic in that way IMO.

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25 May 2021 06:34 - 25 May 2021 06:35 #360392 by Gisteron
The original post here is mostly copied (without reference) from this Guardian article:

I say mostly, because the opening three sentences are copied from this article courtesy of Scientific American:

All that being said, if someone here wants to have that discussion, or even themselves represent potential positions in the OP - or what ever else they'll come up on their own, for that matter - by all means, let's have it.

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned
Last edit: 25 May 2021 06:35 by Gisteron.

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25 May 2021 11:03 - 25 May 2021 11:12 #360393 by Carlos.Martinez3
Pastor Carlos here. What does YOUR faith make in you? Some people put on the Jedi robe and become jerks others become seekers and even some become a combination of things. There is no limit to how far you can reflect. I am not a book smart man. I can not tell you who said what where and from what time. There are plenty of resources available, but what does your seek make you? I am no Christian but I will tell you without certain examples in the faith, I personally would have been given a hand I did deserve if it were not for Jesus love. Same can be said for many things. I use my free will often. I were encourage others too. It makes me a better person for me... and it helps to keep peace in our hearth. You can split hairs if you like or ... figure what looks good on you.

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Last edit: 25 May 2021 11:12 by Carlos.Martinez3.

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25 May 2021 11:20 #360394 by Wescli Wardest

I am not a neuroscientist. That said, mapping what happens when decision is made is not understanding what caused one to make that decision. It is merely seeing the process in action. If you were in a plane watching a car drive down the road you would not assume that every time you see the car drive down the road it would take the same path. The driver of the car may be going somewhere different this time.

Free will, destiny, fate… these are not at odds with each other but work in conjunction. You have free will. You are destine to die someday. The choices you make during your time here matter. In fact, they matter more than where you are destine to end up. The ends do not justify the means, the means quantify the ends. That is why we were given free will in the first place; to make bad choices and learn from them, to make good choices and enjoy the fruits of those choices.

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30 May 2021 16:19 #360515 by Streen
My question is, does it matter?

We go about living our lives how we choose regardless of whether or not it is fate, destiny, free will, etc.

Knowing whether or not we truly have choices is irrelevant. Either way, we do what we do.

There is a fine line between insight and insanity.

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