in defense of determinism


In this post, the author and a few of those who have commented blame Dawkins and Krauss of having a banal view of freedom. Maybe at the end of my post, I will be in the same box with them, except without the fame and publicity.

I can’t tell whether the post is a critique of determinism or science as a method. The author is all over the place. If the critique is about science as a method, we can safely say we have no method of acquiring knowledge. Revelation is unreliable and unnecessary if the facts it reveals are such that we can arrive at through other modes. Tarot sticks/ cards or whatever have not given us any reliable knowledge about ourselves or the universe. Science remains the only means we have to acquiring knowledge.

It is to be readily admitted there are many things about us not yet answered but am certain no amount of prayer will show why I like vanilla ice-cream. Neither do I expect to get revelation on why sex is good.

But if the post is a critique of determinism, I can say without fear that the author has not even scratched the surface of the problem. Further, I should be  forgiven for saying the author is ignorant of the issue at hand and by going after Dawkins and Krauss, he is venturing into adult talk where he isn’t qualified to speak.

But I digress. The debate on freewill and determinism is to me one of misunderstanding and especially from the freewill proponent. They want to use words freely to mean what they want.

And at the heart of the problem is what is the meaning of freewill and determinism. In Determinism and freewill, C Chapman writes determinism asserts

human nature is part and parcel of nature as a whole, and bears to it the same relation that a part does to the whole.

This means if the law of causation applies universally in the universe, it must apply to human nature. And even if we allow that biological laws are a different set, they are not contradictory to, but additional to other laws of nature.

Going back again to Chapman, he says of the freewill believer

does not on his part deny the influence on the human organism of those forces on which the Determinist lays stress. What he denies is that any of them singly, or all of them collectively, can ever furnish an adequate and exhaustive account of human action. He affirms that after analysis has done its utmost there remains an unexplained residuum beyond the reach of the instruments or the methods of positive science. He denies that conduct–even theoretically–admits of explanation and prediction in the same way that explanation and prediction apply to natural phenomena as a whole.

What about choice someone may ask?. While I admit to not having provided an adequate answer, I think Chapman does a good job at it. He writes

Choice, then, is a phenomenon of consciousness, and it implies a recognition of alternatives. But a recognition of alternatives does not by any means imply that either of two are equally eligible. It is merely a consciousness of the fact that they exist, and that either might be selected were circumstances favourable to its selection. Without labouring the point we may safely say that all that is given in the fact of choice is the consciousness of a choice. There is nothing in it that tells us of the conditions of the selection, or whether it was possible for the agent to have chosen differently or not.

So that when our author quotes Dawkins saying

I have a materialist view of the world, I think that things are determinied in a rational way by antecendent events.

I can’t for the life of me see what he finds wrong with the statement. One Dawkins is saying he has, not the world is and the question for the author is to show that Dawkins is wrong which I haven’t seen him do.

When Marvin writes in his comment in the post

And if we are free to make that choice for ourselves and are not forced by someone else to act against our will, then it is a choice and an act of our own free will.

and I will hasten to say he doesn’t understand the problem. When I say we are not free, I don’t say there is a person compelling you to do anything. No, not all. It only means at any given time our will is determined by previous events and our environment. That it is no way ever free from such influences. To show that my understanding is wrong, all one needs to do is to give an example of a situation when we are free from outside/ external influence.

As I have said before and I will say it now, I am open to persuasion. I would like the thorough going freewill believer to explain what they mean by freewill in a way that is clear and give examples where such a thing as described actually occurs in human affairs and I will readily consider my position on determinism.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

127 thoughts on “in defense of determinism

  1. stephenbrodie says:

    It only means at any given time our will is determined by previous events and our environment. I couldn’t agree more. have you heard the term=the ties that bind. this is true to everyone of us, Family, friends,race, country, these are all thing that bind us and determine our actions. Free will is a fallacy

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    • makagutu says:

      Hey Stephen.
      Tell the freewill believer it is an illusion and you will have a hard time at it. God has given them freewill and by extension denying freewill can look like saying their god is an illusion

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  2. Another well written terrific post, my friend. “…by going after Dawkins and Krauss, he is venturing into adult talk where he isn’t qualified to speak.” This statement is dead on accurate. The author of the OP is out of his league. Imagine him in an actual face to face debate with these guys? He’d burst into tears and run. I’ve said this before. There is no freewill. I’ve shopped for it for decades, and the cheapest will I’ve ever found was a buck sixty two on eBay. Everything we do is determined by all that’s come before and the environment we are in. Nothin’ free there. $Amen$ Happy Crucified Zombie Day, BTW.

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  3. Thanks for the link Makagutu, sorry you weren’t persuaded by the argument. For what it’s worth, and to be clear, I’m not defending religious free will, and am also an atheist. I’m also a naturalist, in that i don’t believe any magic is required for freedom. I think freedom is natural, and that means reconceptualising nature to let it in.

    My essential point is that all these concepts – determinism, binding laws of causation, reductionism – are essentially just repetitions of the method of science, expanded to include everything. I can’t tell in your post whether you think science has a method or not, but I’m sure you’ll accept that there is something like a method going on – repeated observations or experiments used to prove fixed theories for how things have to behave. Physics, chemistry and biology all do this in one way or another.

    The thing I’m trying to make sense of is this – if we are free, would any of these sciences be able to discover that freedom? Is there an experiment that could prove we are free? I think it’s pretty clear that the answer to those questions is no. Science is only able to understand phenomena that behave according to fixed laws, ideally expressed in maths, which can be proven to produce repeating results.

    That leaves you and I with two alternatives. We can either assume that nature all behaves according to such laws, and that as such the various scientific methods are all we need to understand everything. Or we can think about how to make sense of the universe if there is something within it that does not so conform. That would mean that the gold standard of knowledge would not be possible, that we would have to think about our knowledge of free behaviour in a different way.

    Still, there’s no absolutely unarguable way of deciding between these two alternatives. You can have a world with freedom in and have to re consider the omnipotence of science, or you can keep the omnipotence of science, and believe your every act is determined by something happening just before it. I chose the former, but because you can’t chose, all you can do is get angry at people who don’t see things your way.

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    • makagutu says:

      Hello Thomas.
      I think many proponents for the freewill argument are theists. Atheists like Dan Dennett also come to mind but for the most you will agree that its defenders are theists who believe they were given free will by their god.

      I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. In this post, I consider science as a method.

      Why would science not answer that question? Don’t you think our behaviour can be mapped if we had all the inputs? I disagree with your answer that we wouldn’t know. Our ignorance now shouldn’t be considered as a justification of saying there is something in the beyond.

      I think you are creating a dilemma where there is none. We can as well say we don’t know now but hopefully that knowledge can be developed.

      And unfortunately for you am not angry. In my last paragraph I say I am open to persuasion. Show me where am wrong and I will reconsider my position.

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      • Yeah I find it deeply depressing that the only defenders of freedom are theists. Freethinking without freedom seems a bit of a waste.

        The thing I don’t understand is why you think the only alternatives are determinism or “something in the beyond”. Why can’t it just be that the evolution of conscious brains and our history of developing the culture and language to use them means we’re able to determine our own behaviour? No beyond necessary. If that were the case then even if you knew all the inputs you wouldn’t know the output. Obviously if i’m right we wouldn’t know that until we could establish that science can’t predict our behaviour (and even this is tricky, as you’d always be able to look at past behaviour and work out probabilities, it is then a question of how you treat the probabilities), and that might not happen for many generations. And yet there are clearly problems for science here, the hard problem of consciousness and the difficulty in reducing language to something non-linguistic for two.

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        • makagutu says:

          Thomas I don’t understand why you adopt a confrontational attitude.
          In Athens when they spoke about free men, they were comparing slaves and citizens. The Judaist and Christian could not justify god punishing Adam and Eve without accepting there is freewill. To accept that their actions were determined would run counter to the punishment metted on them. It is this reason, to make men responsible that the greatest number of freewill defenders are religious. This is not to say it is wrong because theists are its defenders, far from it. What I asked you to show me in my comment to you and in my op is what you mean by freewill and how you account for it.
          As in your post you are all over the place again. You say there is no use for free thinking without freedom. But here I don’t know in what sense you are using any of these words. It would be a good start to explain your meaning.
          I didn’t give only two alternatives, you did. I only included another.
          I am aware of the hard question of consciousness. I don’t see how it is relevant to the present discussion

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          • Confrontational? As I recall this all started with your post describing me as, essentially, an idiot. By never mind about that though, my point is that freethinking is held back by its inability to embrace our capacity to purposefully change, that it could thrive as a cultural movement were it to let go of determinism. On a practical level I’m sure you agree?

            We will continue to talk across each other, without really meeting, because from where you are, the absence of freedom is just a fact on the level of all facts, and everything is part of a system which can be calmly explained by scientists. But from where I am, where we are only free because we learn to be and believe we are and because we have the languages and cultural practices of freedom, the denial of freedom is a tragedy which limits the possibilities of action that we all live within. From where I am I think undermining freedom is immoral, from where you are morality based on responsibility is an illusion.

            Likewise if I account for freedom by saying that we are conscious and have learned how to consciously determine our own behaviour, you will think that a somewhat stupid account and crave for scientific evidence. This, of course, is impossible, for science can only explain behaviour that is not free.

            Here we are stuck, each confronting the ghost of the other’s idea. Fortunately for you, almost everyone who thinks about these things is on your side.

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          • makagutu says:

            Thomas I don’t understand you, honestly I don’t.
            In my last comment I asked you to briefly explain to me in what sense you use free thinking and freedom so that we are talking about the same thing. You still have not done that but go ahead and say we are speaking past one another. Is it so hard to define what you mean?

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          • Clearly it is.

            I take freedom to be the capacity to do things on purpose and to be able to do otherwise. Agree?

            And freethinking I take to be the mindset advocated by rational atheists whereby you interogate the evidence in an open minded and logical way. Agree?

            And I think freethinking is limited in its capacity to function as a mindset because if you don’t believe people can do anything on purpose, you don’t think they can interogate the evidence on purpose, nor purposefully change to be open minded. I take it you don’t agree with that. Or perhaps you find talking about things in this way pointless because you can’t chose how to design free thinking?

            At any rate, do you see what I’m getting at?

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          • makagutu says:

            Let us agree to use the definition given by Count Tolstoy

            Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking

            and freedom to be

            absence of determining conditions

            If we can agree on the definition I have provided, and I take purpose to mean an end, at no time have I said that doesn’t happen. What I have been saying is that purpose/ end together with environment among others determine how a person will act. Do you disagree with this?

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          • Now it’s my turn not to understand, but I feel that is the aim. Your compatablist samantics leaves the question of genuine purpose open because you do not talk about the ability to do otherwise. If you can’t do otherwise, you can’t really do anything on purpose.

            Your language frames everything in passive language which does not capture the human situation, if we are free. It assumes the system is deterministic from the start. The only freedom you remove is the magic of uncaused events, and we can both agree on that.

            Let’s try this definition – if we are free it is because we are able to consciously determine our own behaviour in the present. If we are conscious of more than one possible cause of our future behaviour, we are not forced to take either alternative.

            The focus of the discussion then becomes the process by which you compare and decide between alternatives. Here too, I would say, you are free if you are aware of more than one possibility as a means of comparison or analysis.

            In this form of argument you (the determinist ) can always posit a prior causal system, which I can always say is subject to freedom if we can be made aware of it.

            We both have to stop this entering an infinite regress, which you (as Sam Harris does) can do by talking about unconscious causes (which come with considerable conceptual baggage) , and I can do by saying that, without a final analysis and in imperfect conditions, we act. Action ends the regress.

            Is looking at it this way any use to you?

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  4. There is no alternative to determinism other than chaos. The reliability of cause and effect are not merely required by the physical universe. They are required by any rational universe, because reasons are also causes.

    The error is when you presume that free will operates outside of determinism. It doesn’t. Nothing operates outside of causation.

    So the question is “What can free will mean in a deterministic universe?”

    The practical meaning is that a person is said to have “free will” if he or she is able to make his or her own choices. And that remains as true as it has ever been.

    Haven’t we always presumed that a person’s choices are influenced by how they were raised and what they were taught? Isn’t that why we build churches and schools (and correctional facilities)?

    When we first consider the concept of universal inevitability, it sets us off balance. It is a dizzying idea that there is but one outcome and that, if we had an omniscient deity around (which we don’t) then “he” could reliably predict every choice we will make in the future, based upon the current state of things.

    That’s a scary thing. Or is it?

    What are the actual “causes” of our choices?

    In the real world, we exist as biological organisms with a DNA program providing a “biological will” to satisfy our basic needs for survival (hunger, thirst, reproduction, etc). Part of this organism is a nervous system and brain capable of understanding “self” and “environment” and mediating successful interaction between them through experimentation, learning, imagination, planning, evaluation, and CHOOSING.

    That is what we call “us”. And “us in the act of choosing” is what we call “free will”.

    And what we (and all other similar life forms) choose to do is the final responsible cause what becomes inevitable — well, not all of it, of course, but every effect caused by our chosen action.

    So what is it that this universal inevitability causes? Well, inevitability causes nothing. It is merely an observation of the fact that all effects have causes. And one of those causes happens to be us.

    The fact of determinism is only useful in areas where it is helpful to know the causes of events that might affect us and predict effects that might benefit or harm us.

    The particular fact that my next choice will be inevitable is useless to me, unless you can tell me what I will choose (and convince me that you are correct). So, it is interesting, but pretty useless.

    So, in summary, universal inevitability is not so scary. It is still “us” in there deciding what will become inevitable and what remains a mere possibility.

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    • makagutu says:

      Hi Marvin thanks for taking time to read and respond to my post.
      Am confused as to whether you agree with me or disagree. But before we get there, you say there’s no alternative to determinism but chaos. How is this?
      I would like to know your understanding of freewill. You say a deterministic universe does not exclude freewill.
      When you ask about why we build schools and so on, how is this different from my saying our will is determined by among other things our environment?
      No where in my post do I mention a deity. I only say if we could map out all the influence we could predict how a person would act. Why do you disagree with this?
      Why would the fact that your next choice or action be inevitable be useless. That I can’t tell you exactly what it is since I lack the information doesn’t make determinism wrong.

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      • I agree with determinists regarding the reality of determinism. It is an objectively observed characteristic of the real world.

        I disagree with determinists on the idea that it in any way restricts free will. Free will is an objectively observed phenomena in the real world. And it requires deterministic causation to exist in any meaningful way.

        I’ve explained how free will works in a deterministic universe. It is no more and no less than us choosing for ourselves what we will do.

        The fact that our choices are actually and finally caused by “that which is us” should be sufficient.

        Any definitions of free will that logically imply freedom from causation would be incorrect. Any definitions of determinism that preclude free will would also be incorrect.

        I have no argument with determinism, as it actually is. I have no argument with free will, as it actually is.

        My only argument is with those insisting they are incompatible. Clearly they cannot be incompatible, because “I’m looking right at them, and there they both are”.

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  5. shelldigger says:

    I honestly feel like the answer is both. Yes we have a degree of free will, but then again we are also a product of our environment. I think the truth lies somewhere in the between, rather than strictly one or the other.

    But like you Mak, I am open minded enough to keep considering the arguments.

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    • makagutu says:

      I think it is a good thing to be open to persuasion. I should make my argument clear enough to bring you over to the determinism side

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      • shelldigger says:

        Lol. You have your work cut out for you 🙂

        I just can’t get past the notion that if I walk into a Baskin Robbins, with an entire 31 flavors of ice cream to choose from, that my choice would be predetermined with so many options available.

        My genetics, my upbringing, while having an enormous influence in my life, cannot possibly be why I would choose Rasberry Ripple.

        With your aforementioned tendency to vanilla, that could not possibly be influenced by so many new options to try? Or are you going with vanilla?

        I must resist the dark side 🙂

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        • makagutu says:

          This my friend has at last brought us closer to the solution. Choice here, I think, you mean a consciousness of the available alternatives but doesn’t in any way mean that all of them are viable.
          I will give a different example.
          I live on the 3rd floor apartment. When I want to go to the ground floor, I have the option of the staircase or jumping. Both choices are available to me but not both are viable and as such will not be acted upon. So that we have the consciousness of alternatives doesn’t in any way tell what we will act upon. Our choice will still be determined.

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          • shelldigger says:

            That might be true 99% of the time. yes it would be ridiculous to jump, unless the building was on fire, and it would be certain death to go down the stairs.

            That is a very limited, in my mind, example. So, you are going with vanilla then? 😉 All of my 31 flavors are viable.

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          • makagutu says:

            I will go with vanilla even though there are other alternatives. I may take strawberry if they don’t have vanilla.
            You are going home from walk. There are two roads all will take you home. One goes through a dark alley where muggers are known to hide and the other is an open street. Both are the alternatives but only one is viable. They are all choices

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          • As well, you have the choice of sending me 500.00 dollars, or not. I suggest you do because it will make me not send a plague of mosquitoes to suck your blood. $Amen$

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          • makagutu says:

            I am sending money by holy spirit exchange

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          • LOL! I’ll have to remember that one.

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          • makagutu says:

            It’s free over long distances

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          • Thanks. I’ll send a receipt back with him. 🙂

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          • shelldigger says:

            Mugger alley might be viable if Ive had a bad day. There are times I feel like having a Clint Eastwood moment. 😉

            The thing is viable options all depend upon multiple circumstances, at that moment in time. My reaction, my choice is based upon many things. Already mentioned genetics, and upbringing. Also factor in life experiences both good and bad to complete the who and what we might be. Add these things to existing circumstances at a single point in time. Give a thinking man a moment to consider his options, and a decision, a choice is made with all of these factors influencing. Except for rare moments of whimsy which might persuade one to make a choice less obvious.

            Yes choices are made with viable options. Some obvious, some not so obvious. Circumstance dictate the viability of your options. At the very core though lies that choice, whatever it may be. No?

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          • makagutu says:

            Choice only means awareness of alternatives. It doesn’t tell us whether you would have acted differently

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          • Does one choose which flavor of ice cream one likes? I like vanilla, but did I choose to like vanilla more than anchovy flavored ice cream? I think not. I just prefer it. So, yes, in 31 Flavors, I COULD choose any one of the flavors, but I’m going to choose the one I like most, most of the time, and I didn’t chose to like it, I just do. Choosing another, that I don’t like as much,will only reaffirm that I like vanilla most, which again, is not something I choose to like most, I just do. Thus, my choice of choices are not mine to choose. They’ve been determined for me by things beyond my control. I think this makes each of us very unique, but in no way free. Now, where’s my 500.00 dollars?

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          • makagutu says:

            I have sent additional 500.00 dollars by holy spirit exchange. I couldn’t have said this better than this.

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          • Well, you have REALLY sent the 500.00. That would have improved the sentence greatly. 😀

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          • “Thus, my choice of choices are not mine to choose. They’ve been determined for me by things beyond my control. I think this makes each of us very unique, but in no way free.”

            But as long as vanilla is your own favorite flavor, and you decided to have your favorite flavor rather than try another, and no one is forced you to choose chocolate instead, then we say you chose vanilla of your own free will.

            The flavor preference, although unchosen, is part of what makes you you. It causes you to choose vanilla most of the time. But it is still you doing the choosing (besides, you could have had a V8).

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          • I could. But why? Would you and do you chose things you find distasteful just because you can? If so, why? If you tell me you deliberately eat stuff you think tastes like crap just because you can, I’ll say you be tellin’ a lie. I did not choose to prefer vanilla over anchovy. Why would I eat something I find awful just because I can? Do I truly want to eat something I know will make me vomit just because I can? I CAN jump into traffic. I won’t. But I can. Why not? What stops me? A biological impulse, beyond my “will” that says, LIVE, and you won’t if you jump into traffic. Sorry, but your choices are limited and your will is determined by things far beyond your control. Prove otherwise. Tomorrow, become King of England. Use your power of will and do it. Choose it. Come on. you can do it, you are FREE!!! Actually, let’s make this easier. Don’t respond to this comment. No matter how much you want to, don’t. You’re gonna any way. Now, as you write your response proving me right, and you will write it, know this: I won’t respond back. I know I won’t because, by nature, I like to fuck around with people on topics like this. Ain’t really a choice. I do it cause it gives me pleasure. Yes. I’m that petty. So, now, don’t respond. I know I won’t. 😀 Free will my ass.

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          • shelldigger says:

            Ahh, choice can also mean an act, a decision, a path taken. That is the context I am using it, in this particular case.

            Having a possible set of alternatives is also choice. When things start getting towards the deep end of the pool, word meanings and usage can often be obstacles to understanding each other. It is also as you well know, where the apologists like to play their games. I know we are not doing that here, but it seemed appropriate to bring it up as I was finishing up a line of thought…

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          • makagutu says:

            Nope, choice doesn’t refer to a path taken. I think so far as the discussion on determinism is concerned, it only means awareness of alternatives.

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  6. shelldigger says:

    After re-reading my own comment I’m no longer sure I did mean choice in the verbal meaning. Pardon my own self. I have been in and out and quite busy today. I’ll get caught up with myself in a minute.

    Let me look at this again…choice has both meanings. All available options from which to choose, and an act, an action made through an analysis of options.

    Having choice (available options) does not dictate a choice made. It is merely a list of options. I still believe that reasoning through my available choices, and considering current cirmstances, whatever they may be, will dictate the direction of whatever choice (action) I might take.

    I like chocolate ice cream. I like it with almonds, or peanut butter cups, or a rocky road conflagration. I also like butter pecan ice cream. I also like strawberry ice cream. Let’s say I have had chocolate and rocky road recently. I’d prefer a change up on my next ice cream moment. I would likely then choose between strawberry or butter pecan. I could not tell you right now which way I would go, but I assure given these circumstances, it would be one ot the other. Unless with 31 flavors available I may just go for broke and try something new. Who knows? I don’t even know. But I do know if I have already had chocolate and rocky road recently my next choice will be something else. I have a choice. (available set of options, and a course to take)

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    • Ahh! But you’re going to choose one you like, not one you don’t. You don’t choose which flavors your taste buds enjoy and which they find repugnant. If your will was truly free, you could choose any flavor and make yourself love it. Of course, you can choose one you don’t like, just to prove you can, and eat it down, but can you choose one you really dislike, and MAKE that your new favorite? Why would you do that? You wouldn’t. You’ll eat one of the ones you like. But, your choice to like them isn’t yours. You just like them. I hate anchovies, but love mushrooms on my pizza. Why? I don’t know. I just do. Thus, though I can choose to eat anchovies and suffer the bad taste of them, I won’t because I don’t like them. Why? I don’t know. I just don’t. Did I wake up one day and decide, I’m not going to like anchovies but mushrooms instead? Was it my free will that made that happen? No. It just did. My choice of choices are not mine. I didn’t decide to like vanilla more than chocolate, I just do, and while I can choose to eat the one I don’t like, I didn’t choose not to like it, and I can’t, now, suddenly, through my will, choose to like it. Why? I don’t know, but I’d be an idiot to keep eating stuff I hate just because I can. My choice of what my taste buds say is good and palatable is not my choice. It just is. I can choose to eat what my taste buds think is yummy, or I can gag myself on what they find repugnant, but I’m not deliberately choosing what they tell me is or isn’t good.

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      • makagutu says:

        We are speaking the same language here bro

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        • Right on. If we truly had “free will” we’d be able to choose which flavor of ice cream we actually liked when we wanted to like it. As it stands, we can either choose amongst those our taste buds enjoy, or pick one they dislike and power through eating it without gagging. Either way, we are not freely choosing which tastes our taste buds like or dislike. THAT is determined by factors outside of our immediate “will power”. And, if something so benign as taste preference is beyond our all powerful “will” to choose, so is all else.

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          • makagutu says:

            I want to use my freewill to fly. And you can’t stop me because I have freewill

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          • I want the free will to be reborn, memories intact, to some really nice, loving billionaire parents, but, try as I might, it ain’t happening.

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          • You are still free to choose to eat another flavor of ice cream that is not genetically tasteful or distasteful. But choosing to be free from your genetic makeup is choosing to be someone else. And no one should reasonably expect that kind of freedom.

            Generally, the idea of free will can imply no more than our ability to make choices for ourself.

            It cannot imply freedom from causation, because nothing is outside or separate from causation. The meaning of free will need not be irrational.

            It cannot imply freedom from the real world in which we find ourselves, although we have considerable freedom in modifying that world (building a house to stay out of the rain).

            And it cannot imply freedom from our actual selves, because that would mean we were someone else.

            Basically, free will is us, as we are, making our own choices, as they are.

            And that free will is totally consistent with a deterministic universe.

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      • shelldigger says:

        I have the option of taking a new path and choosing (action) something new. I also have narrowed my choices to butter pecan or strawberry. What then, or how is it that my choice (action) of any of the three is predetermined? I have not yet made my decision.

        Once I do, then it will have been the obvious choice (action), not before.

        If none of us ever tried anything new, how would we know what we do, or do not like?

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        • Where did I say you can’t try something new? I said, you can’t will yourself to like or dislike it. If you like the new thing, you’ll eat it again, but you did not CHOOSE TO LIKE IT! You choose to try it. You can not control whether or not you like it. Thus, your choice of choices is limited. If you truly had free will, you’d not only be able to try a new flavor, but you’d be able to freely choose whether or not you LIKED it. You can not do that. If you gag on it, you’ll not eat it again. You can’t will yourself to like the flavor that makes you gag. So yes, we have limited choices that are determined by factors we can’t control. You can not control what your taste buds enjoy. You do not have freedom of will to allow you that choice. OK, I’m done. My free will is only a rental, and it’s costing me a fortune.

          Like

          • shelldigger says:

            …the thing is at some point you made the decision to try something new. No one twisted your arm, no one held a gun to your head (I presume)

            I really can’t see how the choice to try something has any impact on whether I would like it or not. If I liked it, hey we have a winner! If not, I would now have the experience to base my decision on, if the said disliked item comes up again for a decision.

            Like

          • Brother, I’m done with this topic.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            The question still is, isn’t the trying of a new thing determined? Can you say there are no external causes?

            Like

        • makagutu says:

          I now see the issue in some light.
          Your having choices as I have said is only a consciousness of alternatives. But doesn’t tell us which of the alternatives will be chosen. Your action is based on the strongest motive.

          Like

          • Which is why I choose mushrooms on my pizza and not anchovies. I know I like mushrooms, thus, I’m gonna choose what I know my taste buds like. I don’t know of anyone who randomly picks different things to eat every time they eat. You pick what you already know you’ll like, even kids do this. Hell, they do it more than adults. “I HATE mustard on my burger,” my 5 year old niece told me a few weeks ago. And I hadn’t even put mustard on her burger. I just touched the mustard jar. Is her disgust from the taste of mustard a free and willful choice? Did she wake up on morning at age two and say, “Goo, Gaa Goo, but do me hatwat dat wellow stupp”? No. she tasted it once, or smelled it, and her taste buds hated it. No freedom in that at all. She just doesn’t like it. $Amen$

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    • makagutu says:

      which in this case would mean that your action here isn’t free. It has been determined by antecedent events.
      And yourself is pardoned. I like the direction of this conversation. We will get somewhere. We started many years ago and if we keep at it, you will either convince me to drop mine or I will you

      Like

  7. shelldigger says:

    I can agree that all of the things that make me whatever I may be, and all of the pertinent circumstances surrounding an event, a moment of choice (action), all of these things have conspired to limit my available choices (action) to a somewhat predictable outcome.

    I still however maintain that last moment, that tossup between butter pecan or strawberry, or the option of something new, will have been a choice (action) of my own making. I cannot see how having a choice (option) combined with my true self, along with all of the available circumstances is making this choice (action) for me. This my friend is the hurdle I cannot get over. Make this clear as a desert sky, and I might see the light.

    Like

    • Do you have the “will power” to make yourself like a food you find disgusting? Why not? You can choose to eat it, yes, but can you choose to enjoy it? You can’t. I’ll gag if I eat anchovies even though I can eat them. Thus, I don’t eat them. If my “will” was free, I could choose to like them. I can’t. No matter what. I do not have control over it. I’m sorry if that’s confusing, but, if you had freedom of choice, you’d be able to not only choose what flavor to eat, but what flavor of ice cream you liked when you wanted to like it. You can’t do that. You can’t “will” your taste buds to like a flavor they find disgusting. Why? Why do you like A over B flavor? Did you deliberately make a “willful” choice and say, “I freely choose to like vanilla but not pecan. I freely and willfully choose to dislike mushrooms, though, at any given time, I can freely will myself to love them. My will is free to choose what I like when I like it.” Can you do that? I can’t. Why? I don’t know. But I can’t. Neither can you. Thus, you’ll choose that which your taste buds like and enjoy it, or, you can choose something they don’t and power through it. Try something new? Yes. And what? You’ll discover you either like or dislike it or don’t care. Why? Because you “willed” yourself to like or dislike it? Did you have control over that decision? Did you “will” it upon yourself to like or dislike the new flavor? Thus, your choice of choices is limited to things beyond the power of your “will” to control them. Any way, there ain’t no free will. Your choices are there but limited by things outside of the power of your “free will”. I tried to become Pope once. Almost did it, but lacked the required freedom of will to do it. Anyway, sorry if you don’t understand this. It’s clear to me, but, if it isn’t to you, Mak will answer more. I’ve christians without any reason or free will to pester, and, I find free will discussions as exiting as masturbating with a handful of broken, dirty glass. $Amen$

      Like

    • makagutu says:

      What you my friend is saying is that after everything else, there is still some magical something that control how you will act

      Like

      • shelldigger says:

        No, I am just trying to figure out your position, and it seems that I have “the strongest motive” as my magical decision maker. 🙂

        I can agree on everything, genetics, upbringing, and life experiences, the sum of my existence, combined with all of the circumstantial possibilities at hand, will make my decision somewhat predictable. This I am in agreement with.

        I cannot get past the idea that I have nothing to do with making a choice (action), and my only recourse is to accept “the strongest motive.”

        In the end (IMO) my strongest motive is neither butter pecan, or strawberry. I have no strong preference between the two. I like them both. My choice (action) between the two I feel is based upon the neurons in my head simply choosing one or the other and living wth that decision. If on the other hand I choose a new flavor unknown to me, I have to live with that decision as well, whether I like the new flavor or not.

        ISBD1, I am sorry if my thick headedness has incited a distaste for the conversation. I am not trying to troll or start anything. I am truly trying to understand this concept, and it is a tough one to accept.

        I swear it is I that feels like the creationist in the room here. Thick headed, unrelenting, and just not “getting it.”

        I have a mild color blindness in the red/green. When I was a kid in school, the first time I ever saw those color dot colorblind plates I realised I could not see some of the numbers within. I just could not for the life of me see them. That’s kind of how I feel here, with this subject.

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        • makagutu says:

          Maybe to do it differently, tell me what your understanding of freewill is. I see you have no problem with determinism. I would particularly like to know what this other, that decides free from causation is.

          When you write

          I cannot get past the idea that I have nothing to do with making a choice (action), and my only recourse is to accept “the strongest motive.

          aren’t you the sum of

          genetics, upbringing, and life experiences, the sum of my existence, combined with all of the circumstantial possibilities at hand?

          Is it possible to talk of you in a way that excludes genetics, upbringing or what we cal under the umbrella of environment? And if you have no issues with all these, what is this other you think has room in the action you take?

          And even in this

          If on the other hand I choose a new flavor unknown to me, I have to live with that decision as well, whether I like the new flavor or not

          is determinism applicable. You can’t take a flavour that isn’t on offer. It has to be available as a viable alternative first and foremost. And you may not know why choose it in the final analysis and maybe the strongest motive is to try something else new. Whenever you have no preference, you are in a state of indecision and can’t act until a stronger motive emerges.

          Since you are my friend and I understand your predicament, am willing to listen to you on this.

          And so to move forward, I would like to understand, in your words, what you understand freewill to mean and then what you mean determinism to mean.

          Like

          • shelldigger says:

            My basic assumption of free will is the ability to choose between A or B. Or sometimes C,D,E and F.

            I cannot see how this umbrella would not be a factor. It is this umbrella that I would say is the key to everything we amount to. If this does not factor into our decion making then I can’t understand what would.

            As I understand determinism, it is that when it comes down to choosing between A or B, or C,D,E and F, it simply boils down to whatever the strongest motive might be at the time. Almost to the point of being pre-determined, when it is said we had no choice to act or decide as we may have done.

            I can understand how this umbrella, and current applicable circumstances would be determining factors in our decisions. In that they would be somewhat predictable.

            The difference between you and me is “somewhat” and “entirely”…as best as I can tell.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            A or B or C,D, E and F are choices only in the sense that you are aware of them as alternatives. Beyond that meaning, they tell us nothing about how or what you will do. They do not support freewill.

            As I see it, your understanding of determinism is a bit flawed. It means, to put it briefly, that all our actions are caused. And when you say pre-determined, it sounds like there is a guy on the jockey controlling how you will act. No it is not predetermined, it is determined, that is to say, caused.

            Like

          • shelldigger says:

            Never let it be said there were not flaws in my thinking! lol.

            Yes I get that A,B,C,D etc. are options. Free will, as I understand it, is the ability to rationally, or randomly, choose between them.

            So cause is my fatal lack of awareness here? Cause I would apply to our umbrella, the consideration of all pertinent circumstance surrounding an event, and the desire to act accordingly. The combination of these things, I would describe as cause.

            A dictionary definition with two meanings that would I think apply:

            1. The producer of an effect, result, or consequence.

            2. A basis for an action or response; a reason.

            The basis for an action, or reason, is our umbrella, circumstances, and a desire to act, or choose.

            I can see our umbrella, I can see our cause, I cannot yet see the “entirely” vs. the “somewhat.”

            The predetermined aspect is more how I see the way determinism is understood by those who accept it. Not that I actually see it, or understand it that way. If all abiltiy, the freedom to choose is taken away, what is left if not a predetermined outcome?

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Predetermined outcome implies a known outcome. A determined outcome only means it follows from the causes.
            The problem sometimes with dictionary meaning of words is they give the current usage of words and may not give the origins of the words themselves. Am not saying that is the case here.
            But you can’t randomly choose between them. There is a reason why A not B or any of the rest.

            Like

          • shelldigger says:

            Ok, I can see the difference between the two. But, if an outcome only follows it’s causes, was it not in some way known to have happened the way it did, after the fact?

            I see this as waiting for the lottery numbers to have been announced, and then saying “well of course those were the numbers!” Or waiting for someone to choose between strawberry or butter pecan and claiming that was how it had to happen. There was no alternative. It had to follow the causes, and there was no free will in determing the outcome.

            I have a conflict there. I just can’t see it. As a side note, next time we buy ice cream, I am thinking butter pecan.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            of course, we only know of actions after the fact, anything before that is theory. It is like being asked what will you do if you won the lottery. All the answers you give, brilliant as they maybe, are only theories. They have no value as to what you will actually do, that can only be told after the fact and this doesn’t in any way contradict determinism

            Like

          • I predicted yesterday that further conversation/reading on “free-will” would give me severe gas and cause me to expunge a basket ball size lump of poo from my wee colon. And, sure enough, after reading a bit on “free-will” and determinism last night, that’s exactly what happened. I still have gas, actually, from said experience. If only I could play the lottery with the same accuracy of prediction, I’d be a millionaire. Oh, well, can’t have it all, I suppose.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            I know the feeling.
            I entertain him because he is, like you, such a good friend of mine and it would be in bad taste if I didn’t try as much as I can to explain a subject clearly to him.

            Like

          • Oh, he’s a great guy. ( You’re awesome, Shelldigger. I luvs ya!) It isn’t him. It’s a very difficult concept for some people to get their heads around. The word “determinism”, is confused often with “pre-determined”. No god is “pre-determining” the outcome of each of our actions, but, how we act and behave in any given situation is the result of our environment, our genetics, and our situation in life. We’re not free to be anything or anyone other than “us”. OOPS! I have to run to the bathroom again. You’ll have to excuse me.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Sorry about all your discomforts, the bathroom however is a great place. One gets to collect their mind in one place

            Like

          • Except for the smell, it is a great place.

            Like

          • shelldigger says:

            Mak, I have been busting my balls, or rather my head over this for days now. I will bet you I was the only guy in the county that was staring out the window, pondering free will/determinism yesterday, while waiting for Domino’s to get my pizzas done. I lay in bed last night for and hour and a half, trying to sleep, before I finally fell out. This is frustrating as hell.

            Forgive me if I complain that this mode of thought appears to be post hoc rationalizations, that would appear to be always right, after the fact. And of course you can’t go wrong there, which is why I alluded to predetermism before. If you are always right, after the fact, without explicity claiming it is after the fact, that kinda sorta implies a predeterminism of some sort. At least in my fairly flawed head.

            I still believe the only thing that separates us in this matter is “somewhat” vs. “entirely” at least looking at it from the time frame of just before the decision event. Making the claim after the event, with the obviousness of after the fact, does little to sway me.

            Might I ask what was it exactly that made the convincing argument for you? What got you over the hump of clinging to free will/compatibilism? I am afraid they are as addictive as good drugs, I am not ready to give them up yet, not without a very convincing, life altering, explanation of the evidence. My sceptic is too strong.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Am open to be persuaded that I am wrong in thinking determinism is true. It is a challenge I have given in all the posts I have written on the matter and they are quite a number.

            Determined as I have said means in this case caused by antecedent events and here we seem to agree. As to what you mean by time frame just before the act, it seems to mean you envisage a break in the cause effect continuum. Unless I read you wrongly

            Like

    • makagutu says:

      I don’t for a moment say someone will have acted on your behalf, far from it. Am saying that at the last moment, your action will have been determined by antecedent causes. That what you will do is an effect and that there are efficient causes to the T

      Like

  8. shelldigger says:

    IBD1, I am in full agreement with this: “how we act and behave in any given situation is the result of our environment, our genetics, and our situation in life. We’re not free to be anything or anyone other than “us”

    …right up to the point where when we make a decision that choice was the only possible action we could have taken. Right there is where it goes off the rails for me.

    And I love you guys too. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, and thanks for putting up with me.

    Like

    • no trouble, except for the colon spasms I always get from this topic. Sam Harris has a great little book on this topic called, “Free Will”, I believe. It’s short, very inexpensive, and very easy to read. Most stuff written on this topic is not. I got a lot out of that book. From what you’re saying, you agree with what Mak and I are saying. Our choice of choices are not ours to choose. We can choose, but only within the parameters of “us”. Any way, don’t think too much on this, or your colon will explode. Life’s too short.

      Like

      • shelldigger says:

        Lol, yes I have several body parts about to go Kablooey! This is all a bit of a mind fuck.

        I can pretty much get on board with this: ” Our choice of choices are not ours to choose. We can choose, but only within the parameters of “us.” This is very close to how I see it. My assumption with the assertion, that the choice we actually make, was indeed the only choice we could make, is my stumbling block.

        Perhaps I have misinterpreted this aspect, perhaps we both have it wrong for all I know… I must do some breathing exercises to get myself back on a good plane of existence now.

        Like

        • “that the choice we actually make, was indeed the only choice we could make,” I don’t see it as we can only have or have made one choice. I see the choices we have as being limited by the parameters of “us”. I can’t freely choose to be King of England or a Chinese physician. I’m not free to use my great will to become those things. I’m limited by my genetics, my environment and by my view of who I am. All of those things were given to me outside of me having anything to do with it. Thus, while I have choices, what those choices are are determined by things outside of my power to freely control them, including the things that made/make me “me”. This is how I understand it, and of course, there are many who will not see it this way. Harris does a great job of explaining the neuroscience involved in this in that book I mentioned. Dan Dennet disagrees with Harris on some issues, but, I think Harris is correct. He is also clear and understandable, which many people who write on this are not. Any way, thinking about this too much will cause an aneurism, so be careful.

          Like

          • shelldigger says:

            Again, I can get on board with this.

            I think simply put, fate, or our “us” and our circumstances, do limit our possibilities. But we have options, even if most of them suck. We as individuals frequently have to make decisions based upon our limited options. Then we have to live with those decisions, or try our best to correct (the bad) ones.

            It was the assumption that I had no choice but to make “the” choice, that I made, which was causing me problems. As well as the assumed after the fact postulation that this choice, whatever it was, was the only possible outcome. Once a decision is acted upon, there is sometimes no taking back the consequences, unless you just bought a retail item that did not fit, or you saw the light in some way, that you made a choice that could be easily corrected for the better. Some social circumstances, such as the “do I look fat in this dress?” thing, are difficult to repair, when you blurt out the wrong answer.

            The abiltiy to make my choice, based upon my (limited) options, good or bad, is where the notion of free will lives, is it not?

            Which is why I feel we do have both determinism and free will. Determinism would set up the circumstances, the very limited free will, is our choice made based upon them.

            Where did I go wrong here?

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            First, I don’t recall if there was a single argument that tipped the scales for me. That said, the question is, can you imagine of a case where the law of causation is broken? If we accept that the law of causation is true, then I don’t see how in human actions it is exempt.

            And as I have said before, what I think is happening here is a case of where you misuse words. All I say as a determinist is that your actions are caused. And at no point have I denied the presence of choices. All I said about choices is that they are alternatives and acting on one alternative or another is dependent on some cause. There is no time for freewill whatever you mean by it to act.

            I haven’t read Freewill by Sam Harris, I have it somewhere though but not as part of current reading list.

            Where do you go wrong?
            Your failure to clearly state what you mean by freewill. As long as it is not clearly stated what it is, you can think it exists. So as I asked earlier, tell me clearly what freewill is and I will tell you where your problem lies.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Choices only mean awareness of alternatives and there is nothing in knowing there are alternatives that tell us about what you will do.

            Like

          • Indeed. Harris pretty much says what you say. He backs a lot of it up with neuroscience and evidence provided by brain scans, etc. Our brains actually “decide” what we do and say milliseconds before we do or say it. Fascinating stuff.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            I will read his book sometime later in the year though it will be like listening to the choir

            Like

          • You really don’t need to unless you’re interested in the neuroscience that backs up his claims. Otherwise, you already get what he’s saying.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            You know when I left religion one of the things I was soon dissuaded on was freewill and I no longer can remember the exact time but since then the more I read on it, the more I know I am right.
            Just like the jesus story. I came to the conclusion he couldn’t have been real before I read Price

            Like

          • Freewill was like religion for me: at some point I just realized, “I don’t believe this, at all.” Harris’ book finally helped me clearly see what the arguments for and against freewill are, and it solidified for me that this “freedom” of our “will” to act outside of antecedent causes simply is bullshit. There is no such thing.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            And since then you have been trying to be brand new wills and failing each time

            Like

        • makagutu says:

          and why would it be a stumbling block? Your awareness of other choices does nothing in bringing us any closer to what you will do. What you will do is caused by causes we are ignorant of and had we an inkling to what they were, we would tell you how you would act in every situation

          Like

      • shelldigger says:

        Oh, I’ll look for the book, thanks.

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      • shelldigger says:

        I may have done run Mak off…?

        Come back Mak! 🙂

        Like

      • makagutu says:

        I agree with you, most things written on this subject are not clear and that is why so many people still believe there is some room for freewill to act

        Like

    • makagutu says:

      Had you been a creationist, I would have run you over by now.
      When we act, that was the only thing we could do. We are aware of other alternatives and after the act we can say I could have done this or that, but as long the conditions remain constant, you will act in the same way

      Like

      • shelldigger says:

        Well, you may still run me over yet. What do you drive by the way? I should have the advantage of knowing what vehicle to look for. 🙂

        Like

      • shelldigger says:

        This: “When we act, that was the only thing we could do.” In my mind, might be true after the fact, and I’m not even sure then. Everything leading up to the moment of decision, I see holding true for what I understand as determinism. Our options that are available at that moment in time, I feel, are still open until we have acted upon one of them. This is the detail that has me unable to sleep at night, trying to figure out exactly what you mean, and how it could even be possible.

        Then to tell me that with all conditions being equal, with the same circumstances, the same decision will have been made, that just explodes my mind into little pieces.

        This is the hump I can’t get over. My notion of free will exists at that moment in time where all of the options are still open. Unacted upon. That moment where an action has been taken towards one of these options, is where free will exists in my universe. After that action, we immediately move to the next situation, whatever that may be.

        Causation, as lame and ignorant as this must sound, surely must not apply to an entity of sufficient intelligence, be it human or any animal capable of making a concious or even instinctual decision. If it does, how is this explained?

        I think to be fair, I need to understand your definition of free will, and causation. Causation alone has several uses.

        If you just want to give it a rest, I am fine with that. I know I could use a break. This is not an easy pill to swallow and I am a thick headed bastard. 🙂

        Like

        • “where all of the options are still open.” There is no such thing as “all options open.” Your options are and always will be limited. Brain scans show our brains “deciding” milliseconds before we take an action, all without our conscious awareness. Those who truly know us best can predict, with very good accuracy, how we will act in a given situation. The more you know of a person the more accurate will be that prediction. You do not have an infinite number of choices. Every choice you make you make because of the events that preceded it to make you you. You can’t ever be free of that. There is no “freedom” of will power which allows an infinite number of untold possibilities to be chosen.

          Like

          • makagutu says:

            You have said it quite well

            Like

          • shelldigger says:

            When I say all options are open, I mean the limited options, however many that may be under the circumstances. I did not mean “all” options.

            It can sure get deep quick without constantly defining almost every little thing we try to say on this topic.

            I am only somewhat aware of that brain scan study, and even with its implications, I am simply too hard headed to just let go and accept this possible reality. Pretty pathetic for a guy with a blog titled “Evidence Based Reality”

            I have looked at the Sam Harris book, will get it soon, darn soon. May get the Kindle version, my decision hasn’t been made on those particualr options… but I guess either way, it was how it would happen. This is difficult.

            I have also stumbled across a web site with what appears to be some good info on the topic. I am getting involved with that.

            http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/standard_argument.html

            Like

          • shelldigger says:

            Well, after a bit of reading I have concluded thus. I think I am an indeterminist.

            Hey according to this site Aristotle was one. Epicurus was pretty close. I’d say even if my position is antiquated, and/or wrong, at least i am in good company. And that ain’t half bad. 🙂

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            You know my friend, to say that would be as bad as saying you believe in alchemy because Sir Isaac Newton believed in it.
            Aristotle and Epicurus, though great minds could have been wrong

            Like

          • And, in this case, they were. i still see nothing to convince me there is some “will” that is free of the things that define us. And, Shelldigger, you are still deeply confusing pre-determined for determinism. At this point, we’ll just have to agree that you are wrong. 🙂 Sorry, but the science does not back us having some sort of “will” free of the self that can act however it wishes. Wanting sometging to be so, or failing to understand it, does not make your view correct.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            here we are in agreement

            Like

        • makagutu says:

          I said and I meant it that I have taken all this time because you are an old time friend so don’t worry we can still talk about it.
          Causation I use simply to mean that everything that happens has a sufficient reason for it. It says nothing as to whether the cause is known or not.
          In my understanding, the freewill believer implies that human action is uncaused. Because the moment you allow determinism, you rule out freewill. If you mean anything other than that human actions are uncaused then I must honestly say I have no idea what you mean.
          Intelligence comes long after we have began to live. The child is born and cries for food, to be changed and only later are they able to discriminate their actions. Intelligence comes only later to aid the will.
          Yes, all conditions being as they are, you would act in the same way. Only a modification in the environment would result in a different action.
          Those alternatives that are open are not all viable and you will only action one which has sufficient reason for it being the preference one

          Like

  9. shelldigger says:

    It appears I am wanting of both worlds. I can see determinism as the main influence on our decisions. Influence, not to be confused with dictator of.

    It seems to me that determinism would dictate the circumstances leading up to every decision. The what and the who we are is the sum of our genetics, upbringing, and personal experiences, add to that all underlying circumstances influencing a decision. All of these things falling under the category of determinism. All caused, or consequence of causal events.

    The alternative to determinism, appears to have been boiled down to randomness. If our decision making is not due to deterministic values, it is claimed we live in some state of randomness or chance.

    I would posit that we are missing something here. I concede that (as already discussed) everything leading up to my walking into a Baskin Robbins, and the 31 flavors available, is deterministic. The Baskin Robbins exists due to a cause. The 31 flavors exist due to a cause. My existence is due to a cause. My craving for ice cream due to a cause. The task before me, is to decide among 31 flavors. (let’s exclude the exponential option of choosing a double or triple cone. 31 should do.)

    What are my options? 31 flavors? Not really, I could choose to walk out and not buy anything. I could choose to hop on a plane and have my ice cream in San Fransisco, on the beach. I could choose to punch the clerk and take the money in the cash register, and begin a life of crime. I could decide my money would be better spent on something else. My options, are not infinite, I cannot as a friend pointed out, become the king of England and have my ice cream delivered, obviously. Yet my options are many more than the 31 flavors before me.

    What is making a decision or a choice? It is a weighing of your options, influenced by the deterministic values, the who and what we may be, and circumstances surrounding the decision event. My circumstances are this, I like chocolate, but have had plenty of chocolate recently, so I don’t want chocolate ice cream today. I also like strawberry and butter pecan, both equally with no real preference. I have narrowed my options to these two flavors. I also have the option of trying something new to me, but have ruled that out, I want a known flavor that is satisfactory to my tastes. So strawberry or butter pecan? How do I make this decision? I like them both equally, but today my memory of butter pecan, and the knowledge and now desire of the actual pecans within, sway me to go with butter pecan.

    This decision was based on deterministic values. The ice creams existence, is due to a cause. My memory of butter pecan is also due to a cause (a prior event of enjoying it, but that applies equally to strawberry) so while it seems that my choice may have been determined, I maintain it was based on a thought process based on determinism, yet free of its restriction of having been dictated.

    Influence, is not the same as dictated. My decision, my choice, boiled down to a logical thought process, based upon determinisitc influences yes, but wholly independent of determinism, and certainly not random.

    Once a decision has been made, and acted upon, that act now becomes part of our deterministic existence. When a choice is acted upon, the short window of free will, closes.

    My next ice cream decision will now have the recent memory of having butter pecan, and could very well influence me to go with strawberry next time around. Or not. It all depends on circumstances, and the free will to choose. Free will exists in that smallest moment of time, when making a decision, and all known options are still available. Deterministic influences then lead us to a conclusion. That conclusion, that choice exists outside of determinism, and randomness. We move through the in between as freely as neutrinos move through the universe, most of the time not even noticing our decision process or how we arrived at a choice.

    Each choice then moving us forward in a deterministic existence. Each choice a building block for the future, and decisions to come.

    This is what makes sense to me. This is what I can comport with the reality I see and experience every day. This position I hold knowing full well the recent studies indicating that our brains make decisions before we are even aware that it happened. My dedication to the way I understand things to work, leads me to conclude this study was performed with very simple A/B choices with very few if any actual real world circumstances to weigh, or I am totally wrong. One or the other. But for now right or wrong, this has to be my position. No matter if it was determinism that brought me here, randomness, or being dropped on the head as an infant. This is where I must hang my hat for now. Only adequately removing all doubt of my (illusory?) freedom to choose between the available options, will nudge me towards determinism as I understand it, which strictly removes the influencing of a decision and replaces it with dictates.

    I of course respect whatever position anyone who reads this may hold. I’d like to think I used my limited free will to do so.

    I will also being doing some homework on my end, to try and understand this better, at least to the point where I can understand your position, and how you arrived there. Maybe then, I can see the light to total determinism.

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    • makagutu says:

      Whenever I go to the dinner, I am aware of several alternatives available but I almost always take beef or fish. You could tell what I would for lunch with almost a certainty if you followed me for a week. My awareness of other choices has nothing to do with what I would do. I am just conscious they are there and should there be a good reason (cause) to not eat beef, I will eat chicken. There is no room in this decision for a special something to act, none whatsoever.

      Have you ever asked yourself if you’d desire ice cream if there wasn’t any? Isn’t this a sufficient cause in itself?

      Random, random, chance words that are almost meaningless. What do they mean other than that we don’t know why something happened they way it did. Nothing is ever random, at least not that I know of.

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      • shelldigger says:

        I’m working on it Mak. But it defies everything I have come to understand about the world.

        I am finding myself questioning everything I do of late, tempered against the possibility of what you are saying.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          I recently wrote another post on freewill and god that you may want to add to the material you are looking at.
          And while at it, a certain Greek called Phocion advised one should doubt what the masses believe as right for often the masses are wrong.

          Like

          • shelldigger says:

            This Phocion seems like a reasonable fellow. I’ll look at your post in a bit, once my brain warms up enough to begin with the deep thinking process required by free will argument…

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            The day I refer you to an unreasonable man, come whip me my buddy.
            You will meet Phocion here
            http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Phocion*.html

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            The particular passage

            3 Indeed, when an oracle from Delphi was read out in the assembly, declaring that when the rest of the Athenians were of like mind, one man had a mind at variance with the city, Phocion came forward and bade them seek no further, since he himself was the man in question; for there was no one but he who disliked everything they did. And when, as he was once delivering an opinion to the people, he met with their approval, and saw that all alike accepted his argument, he turned to his friends and said: “Can it possibly be that I am making a bad argument without knowing it?’

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          • shelldigger says:

            Apparently a genius among fools. While I am no genius, I feel like one in the redneck, bible belt south. So I can relate. 🙂

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            When you say that, you remind me of the saying that in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king

            Like

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