"In this world, is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? Is it like the hand of God hovering above? At least it is true that man has no control; even over his own will." -Kentaro Miura 

Do you guys think humans have free will? 

I don't, and I think its an extremely irrational belief to think that we do, regardless of whether you take a religious or scientific perspective. 

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Of course you say that:  you can't help yourself, having no free will.  And I can't stop believing in free will; I have no choice either.  So there's no point in talking about it.  Too bad we have no choice about that either. 

That's where lack of free will takes us.  We can't even decide whether to accept free will!  This is a consistent view.  But like Chesterton, when their are consistent alternatives, I prefer one that allows me to function.  Rejecting free will doesn't even allow me to (without inconsistency) thank someone for passing me the mustard.  And I *like* mustard.

Thanking people serves a purpose, all that kind of stuff helps to maintain social cohesion. 

It's irrational.  He couldn't help passing me the mustard.  And I don't thank him because I value social cohesion; I might as well thank water for being wet.  I thank him because i have no choice.  "Thank you" in this belief system essentially means "I don't believe in free will but I really do."

I'll bite. Prove that there's no free will, or that it's irrational. You're making a huge premise - support it. 

I think free will is a difficult concept to pin down as regardless of the position we take the position we take reinforces our own belief. Confirmation bias.  We also have to recognize that we can only come to our belief through our own observations of life and experience which is inherently flawed because we are flawed by the fact of being imperfect humans. Thus whatever observations we make tend to be flawed and any belief we arrive at from those observations tend to be inherently flawed.  

Free will certainly exists. Just because there are laws or other considerations, doesn't mean that you can't make a choice. Just because you are raised in one culture or another, doesn't mean that you still can't make choices. Just because we can use so much to predict what choices you will most likely make, doesn't hinder your ability to freely make a choice.

Free will exists.

At this moment, I could turn around and stab my coworker with a pair of scissors or nibble on his ear, but instead I am just going to pretend to work and really be posting on this forum.

The argument against that could be "fate", your choice is already made and known to a higher power, but regardless, I still had to complete a thought process to decide what I would do in a given situation.

Well, the science is a bit undecided on the question. Here's an interesting perspective from a neuro scientist:


Basically, we probably don't really - but we trick ourselves into believing we do, because of the way our brain works. 

I think - personally, that for all intents and purposes, yes. We do - at least, barring those who have neurological conditions and are not truly in control of their actions. 

The reason I say this, is even if, as the article above suggests, that neurological biases (time frame, perception, etc.), and other factors mislead us - it is useful from a social perspective, to understand that since everyone is susceptible, it can be cancelled out as a factor. We all make choices - and choosing to act and believe that we have control over those, allows us to function as a society. I think if we didn't have free will (or the nearest thing to it), society would have already broken down. 

It's a bit like making a purchasing decision based on bad research. Yes, your decision may be flawed, but it was still yours. Was it guided by the salesperson who gave you bad information (your brain)? Yes. But ultimately, since we all have a salesperson (brain) doing so (and immeasurably in any practical sense) - it's easiest to just eliminate that factor and only compare the decisions made. 

Personally I believe in free will from a religious perspective. 

But I also believe that a) arguing from a religious "because I said so" stance is useless and b) that God tends to work within the established rules and c) that there is great value in trying to understand those rules without resorting to "because God said so".

So, I tend to look at free will (without any religious/spiritual aspect) kind of like the old engineering joke. 

A physicist, a mathematician, and an engineer are placed in a room with their significant other across the room from them.  They are told that they can move across the room once per minute, but only half way from their current position to their sweetheart.  The physicist and mathematician immediately exclaim, "This is Zeno's Paradox, we'll never reach them!", and leave.  The engineer stays.  When asked why the engineer says, "I'll get close enough for all practical purposes."

I can see that argument that everything we do it predetermined according to the laws of nature, it is all just chemistry and physics and such.  But the problem is that that argument keeps going down to the quantum level, far beyond what we are capable of dealing with.  So, for all practical purposes, we should act as if we have free will, whether we do or not.

Do we have a choice whether to act that way?

I don't see how science could comment significantly on this issue.  We'd need to design an experiment or observation that could disprove either free will or determinism.

Some have said this has happened.  Here's what they did:  observed somebody, oh, I think it was sitting in a chair and deciding, eventually, to pick up a drink.  They found brain activity heightened a few seconds before the hand moved, and a few seconds before the subject reported having decided to move the hand.

From this they concluded that free will is an illusion, that we manufacture a story of deciding at time T when the decision was actually made unconsciously a few seconds earlier.

I think this is unsound.  The brain activity may mean the decision process started, possibly unconciously (or not), but this doesn't mean that the report of the end of the process is incorrect.  If it takes me a month to decide on something, I say "I finally decided" at the end, not that I decided when I started.

You want something that looks involuntary, look at startling actions.  Put a bug on someone and he'll jump.  That really may not be free will.

Aren't angst and indecisiveness proof that we have free will?

And what if I were to awake tomorrow and decide (or be directed, if you will) to make no decisions, whatsoever? To let life drive me. What would happen? Nothing. Eventually, starvation, foreclosure, hospitalization, etc. Still, inaction on my part.

Respectfully, Braeden, you haven't defended your premise that I can see. What is your proof, other than a quote from a smart guy, that we have no free will?


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