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Thread: Do we have free will?

  1. #1 Do we have free will? 
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    Our bodies are like machines. Our brain - the CPU, our heart - the pump, our eyes, ears and limbs - the peripherals.

    We know when we are hungry or tired because our body tells us we are. We decide if we want to make some tea but are we really deciding, or is our body telling us it's time for some tea(maybe we are cold, thirsty, need sugar, need to stretch our legs etc...)?

    As a software engineering student I occasionally us a random generator and have wondered about how one day we might create artificial intelligence that matches our own. Perhaps our brain is constantly asking our bodies random questions like: Am I tired? Do I feel like going to the shop? Do I want to sit or stand? Do I need the toilet? Should I post this question? Maybe our brain asks these questions, receives a reply from a number of sources eg: glands, organs etc. and then computes the best answer based on all the feedback and possibly also based on life experiences.

    I'm not convinced that free will does exist. When "I" make a decision, I try think what caused me or influenced me to make that decision and often I can tie it to either what my body is telling me, life experiences, perception of danger or all/mixed.

    There was an experiment done where the subject lay in a scanner, given a button in the left hand, a button in the right hand, and told to press the button they "decide" to press. They had to think about which button they wanted to press and then press it. The scientists were monitoring his brain patterns and were able to successfully predict which button he was going to press up to X number of seconds(can't remember the number) before the subject had "decided".

    Does anyone have anything to add? I would love to hear some theories or even evidence in favor of both the existence and non-existence of free will.

    Rich.


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    sounds like philosophy to me, although the experiment you mentioned is interesting.

    I didn't know that our EEG technology was good enough to decode higher thought or even urges yet. Could you post a link to a source that mentions the experiment?


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    Here is an article but I'm not sure it't the exact experiment I'm referring to. I saw the experiment done in a video - something like BBC Horizon or similar.

    http://mysticalpositivist.blogspot.c...sentiment.html
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    Usually I consider only the utterly psycotics to have free will.

    Else normal people will suffer from compulsions, group think, suggestion ..etc.
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    Benjamin Libet conducted those experiments:

    Libet, B., Gleason, C.A., Wright, E.W., Pearl, D.K. (1983). Time of conscious intention to act in relation to onset of cerebral activity (readiness-potential). The unconscious initiation of a freely voluntary act. Brain. 106 (3):623–642.

    Though in the past the question has been considered philosophical, we are now developing the tools to address this question empirically.
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    For anyone interested, a neuroscientist I read has written a few times recently on the topic below. Long story short, it doesn't appear that we have free will given when the neural cascade of an action or decision begins versus when we realize it and take ownership. We decide before we know.


    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/m...hout-free-will
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/f...l-dont-have-it
    http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/y...hat-you-choose

    That last one is most specifically on-topic, but reading of the previous two gives context on how the topic built for him.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rickz2020 View Post
    I would love to hear some theories or even evidence in favor of both the existence and non-existence of free will.
    That "will" is (or can be) free (uninfluenced) is a fantastic illusion we esperience at our curent pont in evolution.!!!
    Go here an play the "Guess Game".!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HexHammer View Post
    Usually I consider only the utterly psycotics to have free will.

    Else normal people will suffer from compulsions, group think, suggestion ..etc.
    That's a very odd way of looking at it, a mental disease that controls your every move and you have more free will than someone with a healthy mind?
    Just because someone has an easier time of say... torturing a child than you would doesn't eliminate your ability to do it as well, and your ability to lose yourself to the same disease that the person suffers from as well.

    To the point of the original post why do you suffer yourself with such worries? some sort of minor phobia that you haven't dealt with? what causes you to rebel against control so greatly especially from such an unassuming force??

    Do you feel you would be better off not eating? you know you're free to choose not to...
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  10. #9  
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    This is a philosophical debate, since it all boils down to definition of terms, what is free will ? if free will is the choice to do anything you want within certain boundaries set forth by society, biology, physics etc then thats a different approach from say pure free will where if i want to fly or kill my neighbor i should be able to. One could argue that our mortality and our physical world as it is has boundaries preventing us from total free will. the mortality of my neighbor would prevent me from killing him without consequences that would have a negative effect on my life against my free will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teb View Post
    ...what is free will ?
    It woud be "uninfluenced choise"... ie... free will is an illusion.!!!
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    There was an experiment done where the subject lay in a scanner, given a button in the left hand, a button in the right hand, and told to press the button they "decide" to press. They had to think about which button they wanted to press and then press it. The scientists were monitoring his brain patterns and were able to successfully predict which button he was going to press up to X number of seconds(can't remember the number) before the subject had "decided".
    How did they know when the subject had decided?

    Why does the discovery of a physical substrate for the patterns that are willed action discredit the observed freedom of will? Were we supposed to be thinking that free will was supernatural? The scientists seem to have been unable to predict even a simple button push until they observed the decision made in the brain - that is evidence of freedom of will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    The scientists seem to have been unable to predict even a simple button push until they observed the decision made in the brain - that is evidence of freedom of will.

    Not really. That could just be a limitation of their experiment. At worst, it just means that that particular test was a poor one for determining whether or not we have free will. In any event, one of the links to Sam Harris's blog also indicated that scientists were able to detect some conscious decisions up to 10 seconds before the subject became aware of it.


    The main problem with free will is that it is not really a scientific question. It is really more of a moral question regarding whether or not we should be held responsible for our deeds and actions. The answer to that depends on whether or not we can consider ourselves to be autonomous beings i.e. capable of understanding our choices and making decisions based on rational thought and foresight.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    The main problem with free will is that it is not really a scientific question. It is really more of a moral question regarding whether or not we should be held responsible for our deeds and actions.
    Do you thank we shoud we be held responsible for our actions if we dont have free will.???

    The answer to that depends on whether or not we can consider ourselves to be autonomous beings i.e. capable of understanding our choices and making decisions based on rational thought and foresight.
    Doesnt that get back to a scientifc answr as to whether we have free will (uninfluenced choise) or not.???
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    Quote Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund View Post

    Do you thank we shoud we be held responsible for our actions if we dont have free will.???
    Good question. I'll have to think about it. But I don't think I'll get any further than most other moral philosophers have gotten.

    Doesnt that get back to a scientifc answr as to whether we have free will (uninfluenced choise) or not.???
    No, because it is more or less about whether or not we can consider ourselves autonomous. It is much less about what our brains do (or don't do), and more about accountability. For this reason it is extraordinarily difficult use the insanity defense in court, even if you can demonstrate that you have some sort of mental illness or personality disorder.
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    Do you thank we shoud we be held responsible for our actions if we dont have free will.???

    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    Good question. I'll have to think about it. But I don't think I'll get any further than most other moral philosophers have gotten.
    I dont see any evidence that we have free will (uninfluenced choise)... so i dont thank "we" deserve punishment... but holdin each other responsible for our actions is necesary for a mor desirable society.!!!
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    Saying that we don't have free will might be an oversimplification in describing the human brain. I would agree if we were talking about a lizard or some other lower creature, where nature is the main driving force. Humans are quite unique. Yes, we still have "drives" (e.i. food, survival, sex) but we have a very developed cognizant brain, to the extent that we are aware of our existence. I don't think the same can be said about a lizard. Yes, human behavior can be predicted, but individual human decisions and choices are still unique to most, if not all humans. We differ from other creatures because of our capacity to reason, to go beyond emotions and feelings. At best, human thought can be simplified into survival and seeking happiness (or pleasure). However, how we go about achieving those goals are very different, even when we factor in people who live in the same geographic areas, same income level, same education, people still make different decisions.

    I think the best way to determine if free will exists is to measure people's assessment of risk vs. reward. If free will did not exist, then all humans would assess risk and reward identically, and we would not endanger our chance of success any more so than others. All humans would be equal in their goal for survival and happiness. That is not true though, people assess risk at enormously vast differences. Some people take long-shots and fail, other people take the safe path and live in mediocrity. This, I believe, is proof of free will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund View Post
    I dont see any evidence that we have free will (uninfluenced choise)... so i dont thank "we" deserve punishment... but holdin each other responsible for our actions is necesary for a mor desirable society.!!!
    I, and most concepts of modern law, reach the exact opposite conclusion.

    The choice making is the process inside the brain.
    The more certain we are that the choice making wasn't influenced by either a internal or external source or randomness or overriding influence, the more certain society can be that the brain was responsible and hence hold that person responsible for making an unacceptable decision.

    It is precisely the definition of lack of freewill, as you define it (I define it differently), that allows society to hold people responsible for their actions--just the opposite of your conclusion.

    I define free will as the brain's ability to come up with decisions on it's own--something clearly sane humans possess (and I suspect other advanced animals).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greek_Geek View Post
    I think the best way to determine if free will exists is to measure people's assessment of risk vs. reward. If free will did not exist, then all humans would assess risk and reward identically...

    All humans would be equal in their goal for survival and happiness. That is not true though, people assess risk at enormously vast differences. Some people take long-shots and fail, other people take the safe path and live in mediocrity. This, I believe, is proof of free will.
    If ther was 2 people wit identical genes an enviroment... woud they make the same choises... an if not... what coud cause ther choises to be diferent.???
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The more certain we are that the choice making wasn't influenced by either a internal or external source or randomness or overriding influence, the more certain society can be that the brain was responsible and hence hold that person responsible for making an unacceptable decision.

    I define free will as the brain's ability to come up with decisions on it's own--something clearly sane humans possess (and I suspect other advanced animals).
    If the brain is not influenced "by either a internal or external source or randomness or overriding influence"... then how is it even aware that thers a "choise" to be made... or do you beleive that the brain is somptin mor than biological... such as... spirit... ect... which is seperate from the biological body an has a magical-like ability to make uninfluenced (free will) choices.???
    Go here an play the "Guess Game".!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund View Post
    If the brain is not influenced "by either a internal or external source or randomness or overriding influence"... then how is it even aware that thers a "choise" to be made... or do you beleive that the brain is somptin mor than biological... such as... spirit... ect... which is seperate from the biological body an has a magical-like ability to make uninfluenced (free will) choices.???

    I don't think anyone here is arguing that the brain has anything special or beyond its biological properties. What we are saying is that it has the cognitive capacity for self awareness, self reflection, etc. And thus can, at least in principle, make what we consider free choices.

    Of course, whether we can consider any of the choices that we make "free" is certainly far from settled. But I don't think it is something as simple as hooking up your head to an EEG/MRI machine and trying to find a neural pattern that corresponds to "free choice" (I don't really think its possible in any case). The idea of "free will" is a metaphysical construct; it isn't really describing a physical process.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    The more certain we are that the choice making wasn't influenced by either a internal or external source or randomness or overriding influence, the more certain society can be that the brain was responsible and hence hold that person responsible for making an unacceptable decision.

    I define free will as the brain's ability to come up with decisions on it's own--something clearly sane humans possess (and I suspect other advanced animals).
    If the brain is not influenced "by either a internal or external source or randomness or overriding influence"... then how is it even aware that thers a "choice" to be made... or do you beleive that the brain is somptin mor than biological... such as... spirit... ect... which is seperate from the biological body an has a magical-like ability to make uninfluenced (free will) choices.???
    I have no idea how you reached that conclusion. There is zero credible evidence for anything other than brain biology and my logic if I explained it correctly should not have inferred anything difference.

    You are your brain. If faced with a decision your brain will usually have distinguishable choices to process according to your values, perceptions, evaluation of right and wrong etc. You could use the metaphor of a black box that allows nothing to enter--that's what I mean by "no influence." Your brain also has a unique process to take what's already there and make a decision. To continue the metaphor, ff you were inside that black box, those choices might be solid shapes--you recognize you can pick a the green box or the purple dodecahedron. Because there's no influence and everything happens in the brain is why we know that brain produced the result. It's just you inside your box trying to decide which to choose. The more certain that it would have always resulted in the same result from the same conditions the more certain we are that we can hold that brain responsible for that decision. Inside your box you choose the purple dodecahedron because you like the color and its reminds of good times playing dungeon's and dragons; if taken back in time you'd always pick that the purple dodecahedron. You do so.

    Unfortunately, society has a law against purple dodecahedron. The more certain society is that nothing meddled with that black box or the decision process, the more confident it is that it can hold that black box responsible for picking that shape.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; September 17th, 2011 at 11:53 AM.
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    [QUOTE=Xelloss;283872]
    Quote Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund View Post
    If the brain is not influenced "by either a internal or external source or randomness or overriding influence"... then how is it even aware that thers a "choise" to be made... or do you beleive that the brain is somptin mor than biological... such as... spirit... ect... which is seperate from the biological body an has a magical-like ability to make uninfluenced (free will) choices.???
    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    I don't think anyone here is arguing that the brain has anything special or beyond its biological properties.

    What we are saying is that it has the cognitive capacity for self awareness, self reflection, etc. And thus can, at least in principle, make what we consider free choices.
    What do you mean by "in principle"... that the free will we thank we have is actualy an illusion.???

    Can you give an esample of what you consider (in principle) to be a free choise.???

    Of course, whether we can consider any of the choices that we make "free" is certainly far from settled. But I don't think it is something as simple as hooking up your head to an EEG/MRI machine and trying to find a neural pattern that corresponds to "free choice" (I don't really think its possible in any case).
    I coud have missed it... but i dont know of anybody here who is arguein that a machine can detect a nural pattern which corresponds to "free choise".!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    The idea of "free will" is a metaphysical construct; it isn't really describing a physical process.
    Thats my pont... that "free will" (uninfluenced choise) requires somptin beyond biological... an jus like free will... i also dont know of any evidence that "magic" esists.!!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    I define free will as the brain's ability to come up with decisions on it's own--

    There is zero credible evidence for anything other than brain biology...

    You are your brain.

    If faced with a decision your brain will usually have distinguishable choices to process according to your values, perceptions, evaluation of right and wrong etc.
    Yes i agree that the decisions you'r brain makes is influenced by you'r "values, perceptions, evaluation of right and wrong etc.".!!!

    You could use the metaphor of a black box that allows nothing to enter--that's what I mean by "no influence."

    Your brain also has a unique process to take what's already there and make a decision.
    You say the black box allows no [new] influence to enter... but its loaded wit prevous influence... an the choices made are determined by the influence of you'r values, perceptions, evaluation of right and wrong etc... ie... the choices made are not free of influence.!!!

    To continue the metaphor, ff you were inside that black box, those choices might be solid shapes--you recognize you can pick a the green box or the purple dodecahedron.

    Because there's no influence and everything happens in the brain is why we know that brain produced the result. It's just you inside your box trying to decide which to choose.
    But of course thers influence... ie... the influence of you'r values, perceptions, an how youv'e learned to evaluate right and wrong etc.!!!

    The more certain that it would have always resulted in the same result from the same conditions...
    Yes thats a good argument in favor of determinism... ie... sam input equals sam output... makin free will nuthin mor than an illusion.!!!

    the more certain we are that we can hold that brain responsible for that decision.
    Accordin to you'r prevous argument ... the sam input will result in the sam output... ie... the brain has no free will (uninfluenced choise)... so it (you) are not responsible for you'r actions.!!!

    Inside your box you choose the purple dodecahedron because you like the color and its reminds of good times playing dungeon's and dragons; if taken back in time you'd always pick that the purple dodecahedron. You do so.
    Yes... a good esample of "will" not bein free because of influence.!!!

    Unfortunately, society has a law against purple dodecahedron. The more certain society is that nothing meddled with that black box or the decision process, the more confident it is that it can hold that black box responsible for picking that shape.
    The trend seems to be in the direction of not punishin people for thangs which were beyond ther control... but "laws" are not necessarly relevent to the truth of whether free will is an illusion or not.!!!
    Go here an play the "Guess Game".!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund View Post
    What do you mean by "in principle"... that the free will we thank we have is actualy an illusion.???
    What I mean is that given the definition of "free will", one can logically assume that we can indeed make so-called "uninfluenced" or "free" choices, despite the influences on us by either the environment or our biology. Whether we do this on a regular basis is another topic all together, and something that probably belongs on another thread.


    Can you give an esample of what you consider (in principle) to be a free choise.???
    A simple example would be our choice not to feed ourselves, despite the fact that our body sends signals otherwise. People are known to fast out of custom, and resist their instinctual urges.

    I coud have missed it... but i dont know of anybody here who is arguein that a machine can detect a nural pattern which corresponds to "free choise".!!!
    I was referring to Sam Harris's blog (post #6 btw), where they usually try to settle the question by oversimplifying (or in some cases, even using an outright strawman) the problem. The problem is that it is not at all clear where "free will" begins, or how it should be defined in terms of neurobiology.


    Thats my pont... that "free will" (uninfluenced choise) requires somptin beyond biological... an jus like free will... i also dont know of any evidence that "magic" esists.!!!
    Just because something is metaphysical doesn't mean that it is beyond the physical or the biological realm. If it helps, it is more useful to think of it as a conceptual crutch rather than as an entity or thing or process. Science can help with certain aspects of "free will", but that's all it can do. The notion of "free will" really isn't scientific; it belongs firmly in philosophy.
    Last edited by Xelloss; September 17th, 2011 at 11:08 PM.
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    Accordin to you'r prevous argument ... the sam input will result in the sam output... ie... the brain has no free will (uninfluenced choise)... so it (you) are not responsible for you'r actions.!!!
    So even though your brain had choices (the shapes in the box), and selected one based on nothing other than it's processes, without other inputs, you still don't think the person with that brain is responsible? That's quite ridiculous.

    Using the box metaphor for your definition of "free will." It can't be different inputs beforehand, or that would like different shapes in the box. So what's left? Would it be somehow you loose your desire for purple dodecahedron, and thus it changes the selection and output? And if this were the case--and the process were subject to unanticipated change--that would imply that what happens in the box wasn't as reliable as we'd like to think. In real terms this is sometimes called insanity and is a reason to find the person not responsible--just the opposite of your assertions about responsibility and free will.

    I think a great deal of the philosophical confusion about freewill over the centuries came from the assumption that the brain was somehow separate from consciousness and decision making--there's no credible evidence for that separation. There's also little evidence of random external inputs into the brain's processes beyond that apparent in all complex networked systems, which for simplicities sake we often treat mathematically as chaotic systems even when we're certain they're deterministic if we could somehow actually know everything about them.

    Free will is those choices and the processes of your brain relatively unimpeded or influenced by other things.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; September 18th, 2011 at 01:19 AM.
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    Free will?

    To know what that is, you need to see it in action, right?

    The real question is, is your mind limited by your body, or vice-versa, right?
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    Lynx_Fox
    So even though your brain had choices (the shapes in the box), and selected one based on nothing other than it's processes, without other inputs, you still don't think the person with that brain is responsible?
    The "choice" you speek of is not free... you even gave som of the influences that determine what the "choice" will be... such as "values, perceptions, evaluation of right and wrong etc.".!!!

    You agree that the sam input will result in the sam out put... an thats a deterministic universe... ie... free will is an illusion.!!!

    You agree that a person who is caused to behave badly dew to insanity is not responsible for ther actions... so it follows that anyone wit-out free choice is not responsible for ther actions... an certanly does not deserve punishment.!!!

    Free will is those choices and the processes of your brain relatively unimpeded or influenced by other things.
    What you call the "processes of your brain" includes makin use of all the years of influence it has aquired... an "Unimpeded" is whats necessary for free will... not the notion of what you call "relatively unimpeded".!!!
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    You seem to think that the brain's abilities to pick easily discernible choices, which we wouldn't dispute, isn't freewill. I think you won't use the box metaphor because you haven't thought through the implications--freewill as you define it would be madness and lead to a certain inability to hold anyone responsible. The only way your idea of freewill makes any sense is if you somehow separate your consciousness from the decisions your brain makes--something like an input>brain suggestion>conscience decision based on something other than the brain (e.g., god's voice, moldy cheese in your gut, voodoo victom etc) >output model, when all the evidence suggest its input>brains_conscience_decision>output.
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    What do you mean by "in principle"... that the free will we thank we have is actualy an illusion.???

    Quote Originally Posted by Xelloss View Post
    What I mean is that given the definition of "free will", one can logically assume that we can indeed make so-called "uninfluenced" or "free" choices, despite the influences on us by either the environment or our biology.
    Can you give an esample of what you consider (in principle) to be a free choise.???

    A simple example would be our choice not to feed ourselves, despite the fact that our body sends signals otherwise. People are known to fast out of custom, and resist their instinctual urges.
    What that demonstrates is... that the influence of "custom" can be stronger than other influences urgin us to eat.. ie... an unbroken chane of cause an effect givin us no choice but to follow the strongest influence what ever it mite be.!!!
    ----------------

    ..."free will" (uninfluenced choise) requires somptin beyond biological... an jus like free will... i also dont know of any evidence that "magic" esists.!!!

    Just because something is metaphysical doesn't mean that it is beyond the physical or the biological realm. If it helps, it is more useful to think of it as a conceptual crutch rather than as an entity or thing or process. Science can help with certain aspects of "free will", but that's all it can do. The notion of "free will" really isn't scientific; it belongs firmly in philosophy.
    Thats souns like stuff for a "psudoscience" area of this forum.!!!
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    Fasting is one thing, (i do it myself) but when you reach a point where the urge to eat becomes true hunger (mind you we use the word hunger far to lightly) the person fasting will eat.

    As far free will is concerned it is indeed not something scientific as the term in itself is more philosophical in nature.
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    Lynx_Fox
    You seem to think that the brain's abilities to pick easily discernible choices, which we wouldn't dispute, isn't freewill.
    Whether the choice is thout of as "easy" or not is irrelevent... all choices are influenced... ie... not free.!!!

    I think you won't use the box metaphor because you haven't thought through the implications
    Mayb i misunderstand you'r "box metaphor"... please esplain it an i will atempt to use it corectly.!!!

    --freewill as you define it would be madness and lead to a certain inability to hold anyone responsible.
    Then you'r idea of madness seems to work very well for me... in that... i find it quite relaxin to be less jugmental an mor empithetic an sympothetic by realizin that people never deserve punishment.!!!

    An whether or not people are held responsible is irrelevent to whether free will is an illusion or not.!!!

    The only way your idea of freewill makes any sense is if you somehow separate your consciousness from the decisions your brain makes--something like an input>brain suggestion>conscience decision based on something other than the brain (e.g., god's voice, moldy cheese in your gut, voodoo victom etc) >output model, when all the evidence suggest its input>brains_conscience_decision>output.
    Well let me say this about "all that"... the brane does not act independently from its influences... which btw... could include the effects of "moldy cheese" bein in the gut... an thers zero evidence that the brane is anythang other than biological... ie... the brane continually analyzes its imputs (influences) an its output (choice) is determined by the strongest influences/imputs.!!!
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    cluelusshusbund, despite your terrible spelling, I am in complete agreement.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    cluelusshusbund, despite your terrible spelling, I am in complete agreement.
    Well... until/unless evidence to the contrary coms along... that free will is an illusion is the only logical position.!!!
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    You're avoiding the entire metaphor. (sigh) All those influences you speak of are in the box. If they change than of course it might result in a different decision, it would be like adding another shape to the box and not proof of "freewill, " It doesn't demonstrate freewill, AS you've defined it, in the least because you've changed the conditions. As I've defined it, the brain has freewill to process that influence and arrive at it's decision in either case.

    Now if the process is unstable (insanity) or influences so overwhelming (e.g. torture) most reasonable people (and our legal system) would say that person didn't have freewill and thus couldn't be held completely responsible for their decision.

    I'm tempted to draw some pictures....(would it be worth it?)
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    Quote Originally Posted by xeloss
    Not really. That could just be a limitation of their experiment. At worst, it just means that that particular test was a poor one for determining whether or not we have free will.
    My point exactly.

    Freedom of will is something we have more or less of. The alert and capable and fearless have more, the addicted and habituated and cowed have less. The notion that the will must act without being influenced to be free is mistaken - that would be like defining freedom of motion to exist only in the absence of gravity and leverage.

    Maximum freedom of will is reached at some balanced or partial degree of influence by the best numbers and kinds of things - like freedom of motion, you have more if you have something to lever from and orient toward. Too much, you're unduly constrained; too little, you're flailing ballistically.
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    Fox_lynks
    All those influences you speak of are in the box.
    Yes... the box contains unique influences (that constently change "even in the box") aquired by the person over ther lifetime... which forces a unique bias on any decisions they make.!!!

    If they change than of course it might result in a different decision,...
    I agree.!!!

    it would be like adding another shape to the box and not proof of "freewill, " AS you've define it, in the least because you've changed the conditions.
    Well anyhow... the idea of you'r box is that it doesnt allow any outside/new influences to enter.!!!

    As I've defined it, the brain has freewill to process that influence and arrive at it's decision in either case.
    To you... free will can occur only if you isolate you'rself from any new influences... an even if true... such isolation seems an imposible thang to do... an if it is imposible... then no one has ever esperienced you'r notion of free will... an what you dont seem to except is... that influence is influence whether its new OR old... ie... free will (uninfluenced choise) is not posible.!!!

    Now if the process is unstable (insanity) or influences so overwhelming (e.g. torture) most reasonable people would say that person didn't have freewill and thus couldn't be held completely responsible for their decision.
    In other words... you accept that we dont have free will when the conditions are blatently obvous that the person doesnt have free will... but my pont is... even when influences are not blatently obvous... they are still thar... ie... we are continously bombarded wit a ever changin mixture of old an new influences... an free will (uninfluenbced choise) is not posible.!!!
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    I'm using the box's isolation as a metaphor for the set of external and internal inputs which would not change if you could somehow go back in time and repeated the experience--a thousand times. In each of those thousand times, the inputs would be same, the processing would be the same, and the decision would be exactly the same. Each time the brain, and only the brain, had opportunity to process and come up with a decision--which is why it's considered free will.
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    [QUOTE=Lynx_Fox;284054]I'm using the box's isolation as a metaphor for the set of external and internal inputs which would not change if you could somehow go back in time and repeated the experience--a thousand times. In each of those thousand times, the inputs would be same, the processing would be the same, and the decision would be exactly the same.
    [quote]

    Sam input equals sam output is deterministic... ie... ther is no free will in a deterministic universe.!!!

    Each time the brain, and only the brain, had opportunity to process and come up with a decision--which is why it's considered free will.
    Whether the influence is old or new... its still jus the brain that processes the information.!!!
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    Free will exist only in a deterministic universe unless you evoke souls, spirits, voices from god and other omniscience gobbly gook that can change the course of events inside our heads--but there's no credible evidence for that.

    It might help if you provided some examples to illustrate or explain yourself.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    "Free will exist only in a deterministic universe..."

    It might help if you provided some examples to illustrate or explain yourself.
    Below is a link to a definition that mite help to get us on the sam page.!!!

    Hypertext Webster Gateway at BennetYee.org
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    Quote Originally Posted by clueless
    Sam input equals sam output is deterministic... ie... ther is no free will in a deterministic universe.!!!
    Yet more evidence that we do not live in a deterministic universe.

    But quantum theory chopped that one off at the root, anyway.

    The "causes" of human decisions and willed actions are large patterns (in time as well as space) of neural firings - actually, patterns of patterns, at least two logical levels. These patterns not only feed back non-linearly to themselves, but respond non-linearly (amplified, chaotically, etc) to impinging information from all known levels of information - quantum on up. The intellectual who noted that " In dreams begin responsibilities" was making an accurate observation.

    The dismissal of "free will" from existence must be done in recognition of the determining factors of the will: the concatenations over days - even years - of dreams, memories, stimuli as brief and transient as a single photon of light, and so forth. I don't know what the gain is in that: if the interactions of dreams and thoughts and small random events and so forth are the "determining causes" of my will, it seems indistinguishable from a free one in any verifiable respect.
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    In deed there is no doubt that the universe is non-determinist. Yet many systems of higher, including most probably everything in the brain, can be treated as deterministic.

    if the interactions of dreams and thoughts and small random events and so forth are the "determining causes" of my will, it seems indistinguishable from a free one in any verifiable respect.
    The is a characteristic of many things in nature...including my favorite, weather, from which chaos theory was developed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fox
    Yet many systems of higher, including most probably everything in the brain, can be treated as deterministic.
    No, they can't. Not if accuracy beyond statistical tendency is required, and "black swan" events are to be predicted and handled by one's treatment.

    As you notice, not even the weather can be treated as deterministic, and the weather is constrained by thermodynamics and other large number factors. The higher or outer or larger levels of weather organization are governed by homeostatic and large-number factors, and even that is not enough for safe deterministic assumptions. Something as exquisitely sensitive as the mind is nowhere near being determined by the range of the approximations we refer to as "cause and effect", at any level below the very highest (dreams, thoughts, etc). We are dealing with a system easily and frequently capable of hours long and millions sourced patterns of patterns of neural firings, moving and changing and reacting sometimes for years, in response to the registry of a single photon - a quantum level event.
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    I either don't understand what you are trying to say or you are arguing for the opposite of what we know.

    Brains and weather are far above the scales of quantum mechanics--for all practical purposes deterministic. BUT, they are also extremely complex and non-linear which means even small changes in initial conditions can result in large changes in a short amount of time. This happens even if they are entirely deterministic. Or put another way, being deterministic doesn't mean they are predictable. It's the butterfly wing flap that cascades a sequence that results in a hurricane, or the fleeting thought in your sleep that startles you awake with an epiphany. As you may be alluding to chaos theory delves into these type of systems. But chaos theory IS NOT in anyway inconsistent with determinism--it applies to many natural systems that are nearly completely deterministic due to their scales.

    A single neural firings depend on thousands (probably many more) of atoms via ion channels --way above the quantum level. But as explained above it doesn't matter; We don't need quantum effects to be chaotic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fox
    Brains and weather are far above the scales of quantum mechanics--for all practical purposes deterministic.
    The human brain is known to react - significantly, across its entire volume for years afterwards - to single quantum level events. The release of a single photon from crunching wintergreen lifesavers in a dark closet, for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by fox
    BUT, they are also extremely complex and non-linear which means even small changes in initial conditions can result in large changes in a short amount of time. This happens even if they are entirely deterministic. Or put another way, being deterministic doesn't mean they are predictable.
    Chaotic effects can be unpredictable in theory, not just in circumstance. In what sense is a theoretically unpredictable event "determined"?

    At each level of "cause and effect" description we find limits to the extent to which future events are determined by present circumstances. They accumulate, compound, from level to level. Quantum, Heisenberg, chaos, are some names for these gaps, or singularities if you will, in any supposed bottom up or reductionist chain of "cause and effect".

    Or look at it this way: if you want to determine the future physical location of a neuron in the brain of a human being six months from now, you cannot do it - that's cannot, in theory, period - by reduction to parts and theoretically maximum accuracy in the description of these parts. The most important causes of that neuron's future locations are larger level firing patterns - top down rather than bottom up. The fact that those patterns of patterns of neural firing, when they once again but with variations materialize out of the substrate patterns of the substrate neuron firings in the substrate of molecular reactions built on the substrate of atomic interactions built on the substrate of quantum phenomena, are dreams of Caribbean beach vacations, is information you need. It's structure of the relevant causal level, and the only possible location of cause of future event.

    Dreams cause actions, in people.
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    Chaotic effects can be unpredictable in theory, not just in circumstance. In what sense is a theoretically unpredictable event "determined"?
    Sure they CAN Be. You probably get this, but others might not: don't confuse completely random and chaotic--chaos usually includes limits, certain probability distributions etc. (as it also does in quantum mechanics).
    For the systems I'm discussing, if you could somehow know the position, state etc of every molecule, much like a Laplace Demon, you could predict everything else, they're nature is determinist and does not include any randomness. Of course in complex natural systems, we cannot know all the data and because of their complexity and non-linearity they are best described as chaotic. The field of mathematics known as Chaos theory, originally developed to try to figure out predictability limits of weather (my field of expertise) forecast, is based on treatment of such chaotic systems. Most natural systems, turn out to be both deterministic and chaotic in application. Given the scale of nerve functions it's almost certainly true of our brain's as well. There's little evidence for Quantum randomness or Heisenberg uncertainty effecting the brain (see Problem with Quantum Mind Theory), and no need for any random effects anyhow for it to be chaotic.

    Getting back to the discussion of free will my ideas on the topic are pretty close to Compatibilism. I only recently learned that. I picked up from getting my toe wet in legal theory when I was assigned to JAG duty for a few months, and my readings on secular humanism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx
    For the systems I'm discussing, if you could somehow know the position, state etc of every molecule, much like a Laplace Demon, you could predict everything else, they're nature is determinist and does not include any randomness.
    That is false. Not only does their nature include quantum level (and amplified) randomness, but their nature also forbids knowledge of that kind at every level above the quantum. You can't "somehow" know that stuff, even in theory, and so the "nature" is not determinist.

    But another objection, not dependent on theoretical physics, also applies: determinism is a consequence of cause and effect, and cause/effect description is an approximation or shorthand - kind of a rule of thumb. It's useful, but any real situation is governed by probabilities - and even a very low probability of alternative event precludes determinism.
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    But you can read the short paper I linked to on your own. The scale differences are many orders of magnitudes too large by size and time to include random quantum effects. And like I said, it's not necessary anyhow for the brain to be chaotic--even if it's strictly deterministic. Determinism does not preclude, nor inconsistent with chaos in the slightest. I'm not sure I can explain it any further, though it's a very important principle applicable to most of the natural world.

    (shrugs)
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    The human brain is known to react - significantly, across its entire volume for years afterwards - to single quantum level events. The release of a single photon from crunching wintergreen lifesavers in a dark closet, for example.
    I don't think brains react to such minute phenomena. Maybe some of the nerve cells and neurons do (the light cones in the retina react to photons, that's how we can see), but not the brain itself. And in anycase, even the neurons are so big that quantum mechanics doesn't apply.

    if you want to determine the future physical location of a neuron in the brain of a human being six months from now, you cannot do it - that's cannot, in theory, period - by reduction to parts and theoretically maximum accuracy in the description of these parts.

    That may be so, but every part of the brain has a known function. Even if some of the individual cells move around, the general structure of the brain doesn't change. Because of this, we have a pretty good idea of what the brain really does, and how it relates or generates various psychological phenomena. There is no need to have to go all the way down to the quantum level to understand it all.

    Quantum mechanics is really only important on the level of individual atoms and subatomic particles. On large enough scales, it is reducible to classical physics, which is decidedly deterministic.

    Dreams cause actions, in people.
    Well, first, there is no evidence whatsoever that quantum level events have any real influence on dreams. Second, whether or not dreams actually mean anything is highly suspect. To make a long story short, it is far more likely that dreams have no purpose at all, despite the fact that humans have them on a daily basis.
    Last edited by Xelloss; September 20th, 2011 at 01:34 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx fox
    The scale differences are many orders of magnitudes too large by size and time to include random quantum effects.
    That is false, for example in any sufficiently sensitive chaotic system. The human mind for instance - quantum phenomena (they are all "random") such as the isolated emission of single photons definitely can affect people's thoughts and actions over large scales of time and space. The human body is another - as the people around Fukushima must contemplate for the rest of their lives, low level radiation can kill you.

    Quote Originally Posted by fox
    And like I said, it's not necessary anyhow for the brain to be chaotic--even if it's strictly deterministic. Determinism does not preclude, nor inconsistent with chaos in the slightest.
    Chaos is inconsistent with reductionist determinism - the notion that mechanically describing the low level substrate's state at a moment in time can in theory predict exactly the higher level patterns states at a future time. You cannot, in theory, describe a chaotic system that way. And if the "determinism" avoids the reductionist's error - deals with chains of cause and effect at the higher levels occupied by the phenomena in question - then we face the fact that the patterns we are considering as causes and effects are the dreams, memories, thoughts, and so forth, of the moving and living mind. Outside of dismissing the supernatural from consideration, that seems to hand us plenty of room for freedom of will.

    The pivot here is that there is nothing special about cause and effect as analytical tools: they are shorthand approximations and abstracted simplifications of existing patterns, emergent from the substrates of perception and thought, and there is no magic infallibility about them. Determinism based on cause and effect is an illusion useful in situations of high probability and low levels of amplified feedback; nothing in the real world is strictly "determined" - caused and inevitable - even five minutes into the future.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    That is false, for example in any sufficiently sensitive chaotic system. The human mind for instance - quantum phenomena (they are all "random") such as the isolated emission of single photons definitely can affect people's thoughts and actions over large scales of time and space.
    Again, read above, as this is certainly not correct. The brain is probably not a "sufficiently sensitive chaotic system" anyhow, as every part of the brain has a known function. And again, at macroscopic scales quantum mechanics is reducible to classical physics, so even if you have a highly chaotic system it is very, very improbable that quantum level events would have much influence in determining events in the macroscopic realm.


    The human body is another - as the people around Fukushima must contemplate for the rest of their lives, low level radiation can kill you.
    That's only if you have a large enough dose of it, or are exposed to radiation for much longer than you should be. The reason radiation poisoning kills you is because radiation has the tendency to kill off a large number of cells (usually by destroying the DNA), which then causes a condition similar to necrosis.


    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura
    Chaos is inconsistent with reductionist determinism - the notion that mechanically describing the low level substrate's state at a moment in time can in theory predict exactly the higher level patterns states at a future time.
    Not at all. All that matters is that it can be described rationally, usually with mathematics. Even in chaotic systems you can generalize behavior. The only difference is that it is difficult to predict singular events. But then again, you don't really need to in order to make reasonable predictions.


    Determinism based on cause and effect is an illusion useful in situations of high probability and low levels of amplified feedback; nothing in the real world is strictly "determined" - caused and inevitable - even five minutes into the future.
    That may be so, but there is nothing stopping us from making realistic predictions on the basis of probability. There is a non-zero chance that all the air molecules in this room will all move to one corner, and thus causing me to die of suffocation. But the probability is so low that I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

    If the probability is sufficiently low, then we can reasonably say that the system is deterministic.

    --
    I fixed one of the quotes for clarity...lynx
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; September 20th, 2011 at 03:30 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by xelloss
    That is false, for example in any sufficiently sensitive chaotic system. The human mind for instance - quantum phenomena (they are all "random") such as the isolated emission of single photons definitely can affect people's thoughts and actions over large scales of time and space.


    Again, read above, as this is certainly not correct.
    Yes, it is. Examples are legion, and I mentioned one - the memory of the flash of light from crunching wintergreen candy in a dark closet can last a lifetime and influence one's behavior in innumerable ways. If you want more technical stuff, there's a lot of research recently implicating quantum entanglement in the workings of sensory apparatus of various kinds - in birds, I recall, among others. It's quite possible, at any rate.
    Quote Originally Posted by xelloss
    Not at all. All that matters is that it can be described rationally, usually with mathematics. Even in chaotic systems you can generalize behavior. The only difference is that it is difficult to predict singular events.
    Not "difficult": impossible. And the generalizations are probabilities only - determined cause and effect chains are often impossible even in retrospect.

    All kinds of imaginary worlds and simplified abstractions and approximate rules of thumb are described by mathematics, rationally and usefully. That is no argument for a determined reality.
    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    The human body is another - as the people around Fukushima must contemplate for the rest of their lives, low level radiation can kill you.

    That's only if you have a large enough dose of it,
    No. One quantum, the smallest possible dose, of some of the radiation dispersed around Fukushima, can kill you by cancer. And even the "large enough doses" to disturb the denial-prone apologists of the NRC are quantum level events.

    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    If the probability is sufficiently low, then we can reasonably say that the system is deterministic.
    OK. But that is the only way the term can be used consistently with established scientific theory and fact. I don't think determinism as a "reasonable" term for high probabilities will satisfy the people who are trying to label freedom of will as some kind of illusion.
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    If the probability is sufficiently low, then we can reasonably say that the system is deterministic.
    OK. But that is the only way the term can be used consistently with established scientific theory and fact
    [quote]
    Completely untrue. Complex 100% determinist systems can be chaotic and require probability curves to describe them. I really do recommend you do some reading on chaos theory--it's at the very core of science for many natural systems and arguably one of the most important developments in science of the 20th century. If you do understand it, than I'll just share that you give the impression that your don't--and that might be a mistaking impression.

    This entire trip into quantum arguments, as interesting as it might be, to introduce randomness is completely unnecessary to explain chaos and probability curves for complex natural systems, like the brain.

    Even if somehow we concede the point that quantum effects somehow, by some completely unknown and unproven mechanism, effect the much larger physical processes of thinking, they'd be so rare as to effect something like one decision a lifetime, unpredictable, and probably wasted on one of the many trivial things, like picking strawberry over blackberry jam for your morning toast. They'd have no baring on discussions about freewill.

    The claim of illusion of free will might be justified by the awkward way they define it--a strange concept where the brain somehow can't account for it's own decisions, nor be held responsible for them--even when virtually all the evidence points to nothing but the brain making choices. I still think it's some vestigial hold over from belief in spirits, souls and other nonsense that separate our conscience from the brain.

    (tired of this conversation)...
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Yes, it is. Examples are legion, and I mentioned one - the memory of the flash of light from crunching wintergreen candy in a dark closet can last a lifetime and influence one's behavior in innumerable ways.
    But you are missing the point. The point is that 1) every part of the brain has a known function and 2) it is possible to generalize behavior for chaotic systems. If it were not possible, then psychology as a discipline could not exist, since it depends on an somewhat deterministic model of behavior.


    And also (not to be nitpicking, but you seem familiar with that strategy), a "flash of light" hardly counts, particularly since the retina is a dedicated organ for detecting photons anyway. The photons only "affect" you if there is a sufficiently large number of them (if the photon count is two low, then the brain doesn't percieve the eye to be seeing anything. On the other hand, too many photons would probably burn your eye out. But these things are macroscopic phenomena, and thus classical theories apply).


    If you want more technical stuff, there's a lot of research recently implicating quantum entanglement in the workings of sensory apparatus of various kinds - in birds, I recall, among others. It's quite possible, at any rate.
    And I'm sure you've already been informed of a rebuttal against this in a previous post. But here is another one, by a physicist:
    Phys. Rev. E 61, 4194 (2000): Importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes


    Read the above carefully. It states that even if we take the quantum mechanics approach, decoherence occurs on a timeframe on a much shorter time scale that is relevant to neuron firing. There is nothing wrong with the classical approach, even if events can be traced to quantum mechanics in principle.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura
    Not "difficult": impossible. And the generalizations are probabilities only - determined cause and effect chains are often impossible even in retrospect.

    All kinds of imaginary worlds and simplified abstractions and approximate rules of thumb are described by mathematics, rationally and usefully. That is no argument for a determined reality.

    Again you are missing the point. The fact that you can make these generalizations mean that we can describe the behavior of such systems, and more importantly make predictions based on the model. That is what makes them deterministic by nature, even if the singular events are chaotic.


    No. One quantum, the smallest possible dose, of some of the radiation dispersed around Fukushima, can kill you by cancer. And even the "large enough doses" to disturb the denial-prone apologists of the NRC are quantum level events.
    If that is the case, then how is there life on Earth? You are aware of the fact that we are bombarded by radiation all the time, aren't you? We are even bombarded from Alpha, Beta particles, and gamma ray photons occasionally (these are the ones that can kill you by cancer and necrosis). The reason we don't all die from radiation posioning, despite being hit by it, is because the amounts are so low as to be inconsequential.


    OK. But that is the only way the term can be used consistently with established scientific theory and fact. I don't think determinism as a "reasonable" term for high probabilities will satisfy the people who are trying to label freedom of will as some kind of illusion.
    I think its as good as any criterion as an indication that a system, such as the brain, is probably deterministic. I don't know why you seem militant in your position, determinism does not necessarily mean that we lack free will. Depending, of course, how you interpret it.
    Last edited by Xelloss; September 20th, 2011 at 08:21 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    A set is determined uniquely by its members.
    Axiom of extensionality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Anybody who says that the house has nothing to do with the materials it is constructed from, is talking crazy.
    I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    But you are missing the point. The point is that 1) every part of the brain has a known function and 2) it is possible to generalize behavior for chaotic systems. If it were not possible, then psychology as a discipline could not exist, since it depends on an somewhat deterministic model of behavior.
    If what is being asserted is a "somewhat" deterministic universe, the existence of general probabilities and expected kinds of patterns only occasionally violated wholesale by the unexpected, or the like, I regard my point as carried. If that's what you guys mean by "determinism" than I have no quarrel with it.
    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    Read the above carefully. It states that even if we take the quantum mechanics approach, decoherence occurs on a timeframe on a much shorter time scale that is relevant to neuron firing.
    Look: anyone who has ever seen and them remembered (years later) wintergreen Lifesavers flashing when chewed in a dark closet has proof - irrefutable and verifiable and lab repeatable evidence - that quantum level events (the emission and detection of a single photon) can have long term and whole brain scale effects in humans. This is not a debatable point. Single photon detection is a fact, and aware memory of it is a long term and whole brain involving event.
    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    I think its as good as any criterion as an indication that a system, such as the brain, is probably deterministic.
    It proves that a brain is probabilistic. It only approximates determinism in high probability events.
    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    No. One quantum, the smallest possible dose, of some of the radiation dispersed around Fukushima, can kill you by cancer. And even the "large enough doses" to disturb the denial-prone apologists of the NRC are quantum level events.

    If that is the case, then how is there life on Earth?
    What ?! You guys need to just sit back a minute and think about what you are saying.
    Quote Originally Posted by giantevil
    Anybody who says that the house has nothing to do with the materials it is constructed from, is talking crazy.
    So is anyone who thinks the shape of the house is determined - fixed and exactly predictable - by its construction materials.

    Substrates do not determine patterns. That is not a difficult point, or subtle observation.
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    What ?! You guys need to just sit back a minute and think about what you are saying.
    We are. There's no evidence that a single photon is registered by the brain--even your own example of the Winter-green involves millions of photons. There's also no evidence that a single photon of radiation causes cancer--even among the highest energy ones like neutrinos. It takes many orders of magnitude more than that.

    I'm not sure what all this has to do with free will anyhow. Even if somehow quantum effects changed anything in the brain, it would be random, uncontrolled and even less reason to claim it has anything to do with freewill (by your definition of freewill).
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    what would you do with freewill (or rather freewhim) if you had it?

    eat when you are hungry?
    sleep when you are sleepy?

    What would you do with it?

    There is nothing wrong with punishing people when they do wrong.
    But you must do it non-judgmentally.
    Its called 'correction'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    We are. There's no evidence that a single photon is registered by the brain
    There is: Rev. Mod. Phys. 70, 1027 (1998): Single-photon detection by rod cells of the retina Instructions for doing it yourself: Observing single photons (may be future Instructable)
    More to the point, surely you agree that some macroscopic biological systems are capable of detecting and reacting to single photons? That's all that is necessary here.
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    There's also no evidence that a single photon of radiation causes cancer
    There is: Single gene mutation induces endometrial cancer

    More to the point, there are dozens of other connections: in a world in which lightning strikes follow the ionization paths of incoming radiation, the connection between the quantum level of randomness and the world of landscape scale fires is direct. The questions of decoherence in biological systems - which are still there, as apparently the supposed time scale is not firmly limiting - need not arise.


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    I'm not sure what all this has to do with free will anyhow. Even if somehow quantum effects changed anything in the brain, it would be random, uncontrolled and even less reason to claim it has anything to do with freewill (by your definition of freewill).
    It gets rid of the determinist illusion - the notion that there is a chain of cause and effect leading from the physical state of things now to a single and determined state in the past or future.

    Things are not necessarily "caused", in other words, by the determined interactions of determined effects of determined causes operating at the substrate level of the pattern in question. Dreams are not the determined effects of molecular level causes.

    With that out of the way, we can begin to talk about the nature of freedom of will.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    We are. There's no evidence that a single photon is registered by the brain
    There is: Rev. Mod. Phys. 70, 1027 (1998): Single-photon detection by rod cells of the retina Instructions for doing it yourself: Observing single photons (may be future Instructable)
    Those articles don't even address registration by the brain. The 1st discusses sensitivity of the eye and 2nd is actually measuring flashes of many protons. Not everything detected by the eye is registered by the brain--far from it: The Human Eye and Single Photons



    More to the point, surely you agree that some macroscopic biological systems are capable of detecting and reacting to single photons? That's all that is necessary here.
    No it isn't.

    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    There's also no evidence that a single photon of radiation causes cancer
    There is: Single gene mutation induces endometrial cancer
    That doesn't do it either. If you read the article they don't mean a single gene in a single cell, they are discussing thousands of cells with a modified gene. There's also no connecting the dots between any singular quantum event and changing a gene in a single gene--and I suspect that again, due to scal, we could probably just reject that kind of connection anyhow.


    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    I'm not sure what all this has to do with free will anyhow. Even if somehow quantum effects changed anything in the brain, it would be random, uncontrolled and even less reason to claim it has anything to do with freewill (by your definition of freewill).
    It gets rid of the determinist illusion - the notion that there is a chain of cause and effect leading from the physical state of things now to a single and determined state in the past or future.
    Though it might get "rid of the determinist illusion," (which actually isn't...but anyhow), it would be completely random and uncontrolled--the very anathema of anything we might call "free." You'd have to come up with another name such as "insane will," or something similar to better reflect the result.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Those articles don't even address registration by the brain.
    The second one describes how you can build a device for observing - seeing, with your brain - single photons. The fact that several must arrive in a window to prime the pump does not change the fact that in the right circumstances (pump primed) one arriving photon will trigger a signal. Your linked estimate of "five to nine" is well within the quantum event limits of scale anyway.

    The first one describes rod response to single photons - the retina registers them, and the retina is a direct extension of the brain. There is no lower limit on the number of rod cell stimulations necessary to provoke processing reactions over a comparatively large are a of the retina - one will do.

    Quote Originally Posted by lynx fox
    More to the point, surely you agree that some macroscopic biological systems are capable of detecting and reacting to single photons? That's all that is necessary here.

    No it isn't.
    Then you aren't following my argument. It is, for my argument here.
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    That doesn't do it either. If you read the article they don't mean a single gene in a single cell, they are discussing thousands of cells with a modified gene. There's also no connecting the dots between any singular quantum event and changing a gene in a single gene
    Cancer normally begins in a single cell. Having lots of cells vulnerable merely increases the odds. One dose of radiation, with bad luck, can cause one or more mutations in a human genome. If one mutation in one cell can cause cancer, as shown in that study, then one dose of radiation can kill you.

    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Though it might get "rid of the determinist illusion," (which actually isn't...but anyhow), it would be completely random and uncontrolled--the very anathema of anything we might call "free."
    As long experience has taught me, and your responses exemplify, the determinist illusion has to be dismissed before we can begin to talk about the nature of free will. People defending the notion that human beings are mechanically impelled robots with entire functions of their minds simply parasitic illusions of no causal import have nothing to contribute.
    Last edited by iceaura; September 21st, 2011 at 02:23 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Those articles don't even address registration by the brain.
    The second one describes how you can build a device for observing - seeing, with your brain - single photons. The first one describes rod response to single photons - the retina registers them, and the retina is a direct extension of the brain. There is no lower limit on the number of rod cell stimulations necessary to provoke higher brain reactions - one will do.
    The 2nd article in obvious snake oil and doesn't address the distribution of photons--it just mentions the average rates. What are seeing is the periods when many protons are being detected by the rods and reach the threshold of energy sufficient to be sent to the brain.

    Cancer normally begins in a single cell. Having lots of cells vulnerable merely increases the odds. One dose of radiation, with bad luck, can cause one or more mutations in a human genome. If one mutation in one cell can cause cancer, as shown in that study, then one dose of radiation can kill you.
    As you said DOSE of radiation, usually considered exposure to orders of magnitude more photons than one.

    People defending the notion that human beings are mechanically impelled robots with entire functions of their minds simply parasitic illusions of no causal import have nothing to contribute.
    Calling your brain's ability to function as it should, taking input, and processing that input until it arrives at a conclusion, than calling that process an illusion rather than freewill, which implies it could do that process, is rather strange. Thinking it's necessary to invoke some random and uncontrolled input helps make it "free" is even stranger.

    But whatever dude.... (shrugs)

    --
    PS. And robots will have freewill once they get past the threshold of complexity to be treated as chaotic systems--able to develop independent alternatives to initial choices put before them. Probably not far off. Our global communication networks are probably already there--we just won't recognize it for a few more years.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx fox
    What are seeing is the periods when many protons are being detected by the rods and reach the threshold of energy sufficient to be sent to the brain.
    It's not a threshold of energy, the retinal processing is largely digital (and large scale - my point is made already). It's a number of fired rods, and even your link doesn't claim more than five. If you add in the self-generated retinal signals, one photon at the right time can obviously trip the system and register in the brain.
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx fox
    As you said DOSE of radiation, usually considered exposure to orders of magnitude more photons than one.
    Why are you pretending to be obtuse about this?

    One, isolated, singular, impinging quantum of the dangerous kinds of radiation can cause a point mutation in the human genome. That is the usually ascribed cause of a single radiation caused point mutation in a single human genome - the point got hit with a single packet of high energy electromagnetic radiation. Agreed?
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx fox
    Calling your brain's ability to function as it should, taking input, and processing that input until it arrives at a conclusion, than calling that process an illusion rather than freewill, which implies it could do that process, is rather strange.
    And yet is the determinist's standard proposal, and the OP of this thread.
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx fox
    Thinking it's necessary to invoke some random and uncontrolled input helps make it "free" is even stranger.
    Nobody here has done that - why do you bring it up?

    For that matter, why did you edit my post and then run the remains together without indicating your excisions? This:
    Quote Originally Posted by "lynx fox's edit job
    The second one describes how you can build a device for observing - seeing, with your brain - single photons. The first one describes rod response to single photons - the retina registers them, and the retina is a direct extension of the brain. There is no lower limit on the number of rod cell stimulations necessary to provoke higher brain reactions - one will do.
    has no excuse. Either you are deliberately misrepresenting my arguments, or you think your edit job did not change them.

    If the second, a review of the argument is in order - on your own time, there's no point in my retyping everything.
    Last edited by iceaura; September 21st, 2011 at 04:00 PM.
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    It was a direct quote before you went back and edited that paragraph 5 minutes after my post.
    6:53 you post; I post 7:18; you edit 7:23 Get it? I'm not playing games in the least. On the rare times I edit (usually removing spam or fixing a photo hyperlink etc) I always comment about what I did and why. I do occasionally make mistakes but that's not what happened here as far I can tell.

    As for not liking my characterization of your quantum ideas as " invoking some random and uncontrolled input helps make it "free" is even stranger." I can't help that. The only alternative is somehow believe that the brain can deliberately effect and control quantum effects, and that sir is even more speculative than ideas the quantum events change the brain's thinking in any meaningful way.


    I respect your intellect, most of your positions, and ability to convey them in writing...but on this issue we've just hit a intellectual impasse. I guess we can agree to disagree.
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    Besides which, iceaura, all of the examples you've brought up are mostly either tautologies, or just red herrings. The fact that we can suffer radiation poisoning, or that the retina can detect photons, has no bearing on whether or not human behavior is governed by quantum mechanics. So far, the consensus is that it is probably not, and that the classical model, however determinist it may be, is sufficient to explain human behavior.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    It was a direct quote before you went back and edited that paragraph 5 minutes after my post.
    6:53 you post; I post 7:18; you edit 7:23 Get it? I'm not playing games in the least
    OK - my apologies. I did not keep a record of the edit. Apparently my intuition that the thing was too terse was well founded.

    But we can proceed with no further misconceptions of what I am arguing, presumably?
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx fox
    As for not liking my characterization of your quantum ideas as " invoking some random and uncontrolled input helps make it "free" is even stranger." I can't help that. The only alternative is somehow believe that the brain can deliberately effect and control quantum effects, and that sir is even more speculative than ideas the quantum events change the brain's thinking in any meaningful way.
    Neither of those alternatives resembles my own take on the situation.

    And my actual objection was to the "thinking it's necessary" part of your original characterization. The observation that random inputs of information create degrees of freedom in a mind is unexceptional, and I would take that for granted. It's not "necessary" - there are other sources of freedom of the will.

    The fact that quantum level events - photon emission, say - can change the brain's thinking in easily observed and significant ways is simply that. The occasional sensitivity of large scale systems with non-linear feedback loops and balanced homeostatic circuitry to very small inputs of information has been demonstrated, in theory and in practice and in the lab. It's a reality that has yet to be well assimilated, seemingly. It's only inconvenient for the reductionist determinist - the folks who want to build a deterministic universe from the bottom up via chains of cause and effect. The rest of us still have the remaining situation to handle, and better footing.

    Quote Originally Posted by xellos
    The fact that we can suffer radiation poisoning, or that the retina can detect photons, has no bearing on whether or not human behavior is governed by quantum mechanics
    Sure. I mean, it would have a bearing if anyone were arguing that, but since no one is we don't care - right?
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    Just thought I would remind people here, the whole universe is composed of quantum events. There is no macroscopic event, anywhere, ever, that is not composed of quantum events.
    As Mr Feynman said, "It's all made of atoms". And what are atoms made of? Ooh, quantum particles that take part in quantum events.
    Anyone, anytime, anywhere who says that quantum mechanics has no bearing on a particular aspect of the universe, at whatever scale of whatever scope, is talking whole bollocks.
    Who in their right mind would say, "Oh, well, neither oxygen nor hydrogen atoms have anything at all to do with the ocean". Or, "Forget about the trees, I'm talking about a forest. The trees are not important".
    The argument that any macroscopic event is wholly beyond it's predicate in quantum mechanics is so inane that it doesn't even live long enough to sphincteraly exsanguinate or even autoeroticly asphyxiate.
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    Not only do we have free will but so does everything else in this universe. However "free will" does not mean we can do whatever we want. It means we are free to do whatever we wish withint the limitations of our nature. The limitations of a human's nature include not only the limits imposed upon him by his physical being but also societal and interpersonal pressures, limitations of intellegence and education or ecconomic resources, personal bravery or cowardis.

    The freewill of the inanimate world is well known to science but is usually called "random behavior". If seen from the inside "random behavior" feels like free will. This can be demonstrated by changing the scale of observation so that you are observing very large numbers of humans, numbers proportional to the number of elementary particles in an everyday object.
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    The complexity of the question "Do humans have free will?" comes from the lack of context.

    Sealeaf rightly points out the restrictions based on the '... limitations of our nature." Very few humans can decide to defy gravity and fly without complicated mechanical assistance. (I'm denying the ability of humans to 'levitate' or grow wings like Angel from the X-men.)

    From the context of Christianity, man has free will to accept or reject the Divine leadership of Jesus Christ. Secondary to this, man has free will to act in a morally responsible manner; that is, to conduct one's self in accord with the nature of Almighty God.

    When this is stretched to wearing a pink shirt or a green shirt, the discussion trivializes and becomes rather pointless.
    The universe is a real place. However, you can't see it, you have to imagine it. Like it or not, God designed, built and sustains the Universe. Deal with it.
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    Im currently under the illusion of having free will because it gives me a fake egotistical satisfaction that any choise i take has any power. My personality, that gives me this viewpoint - is a combination of experiences resulting from cause and effect reactions from my birth and was inevitable.

    Free will is clearly an illusion cause free will cant exist in a body and personality you didnt CHOOSE. I didnt CHOOSE to become the person i am today, i became it from outside expressions and senses.

    If our counciousnesses (spelling?) were switched at birth. *I* would be the one asking your question, and you the one writing this. Because the body we are born in is a slave to cause and effect. Therefore since you didnt have the choise to choose who you became, any choise following in that persons life is in essense determined.

    I believe if there were 100 paralell universes, the same would occur in each one.
    Just because i can IMAGINE myself betting on black in roulette, wont affect the actual process of me ending up betting on red.

    Being able to imagine different choises doesent mean the endchoise was free will. The imagination of choises is the reason that the inevitable choise that is taken, is actually taken.

    I think my viewpoint is "Hard determinism" ...im not sure :P
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    I believe if there were 100 paralell universes, the same would occur in each one.
    That possibility is in contradiction with current standard physics.

    Just for starters: Any sequence of quantum events would repeat itself by chance only, a probability that approaches zero rapidly as the number of events grows - with ten quantum events and two equally probable possibilities each, the probability of repetition is less than .001.
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    No we don't have free will. our brain stem, and hardware can make us move, think Free will as you say, is commonly associated with a soul and the soul is just a complete fabrication. soul no exist.
    Free will makes it seem like Me controls arm, first what is me.. well me is not actually just a single "me" I am just a bunch of star dust, and physics. Actually we are just a bunch of star dust, and physics. So yeah we have control, thanks to star dust and physics. not this soul. or "me" Well I guess me, just saying there is not no mysterious force or supernatural that does it. It all a big machine, the brain is also a machine. just like a cpu.
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    there are 3 'selves':
    free will
    ego
    true self

    free will is the self we 'think' exists
    ego is the self we 'feel'
    the true self is the self we 'know'.
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  75. #74  
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    I find it amusing - in a frightening way - to see how far people will delude themselves to avoid the responsibility of being a loser.

    I'm certainly not as shackled as several of you claim to be. Of course, that makes me responsible for my own choices and actions, mistakes and all. Happily, God provides me with the ability to deal with it.
    The universe is a real place. However, you can't see it, you have to imagine it. Like it or not, God designed, built and sustains the Universe. Deal with it.
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  76. #75  
    Forum Sophomore cluelusshusbund's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archie View Post
    I'm certainly not as shackled as several of you claim to be.
    What are som ways you are shackled.???

    Of course, that makes me responsible for my own choices and actions, mistakes and all. Happily, God provides me with the ability to deal with it.
    I dont thank we have free will (uninfluenced choises)... an i hold people responsible for ther actons an im held responsible for my actons... so how coud it be that i dont have a prollem wit responsibility even tho i dont have beleifs that a "God" provides me wit abilities to deal wit responsibility.???

    You clame that you'r abilitiy to deal wit responsibility is dew to influence from God... ie... jus anuther esample of you'r will not bein free.!!!
    Go here an play the "Guess Game".!!!

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/gener...uess-what.html

    When the curent game is guessed... post anuther photo for us to... "Guess what this is" :-)
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  77. #76  
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    Do we have freewill? Yes!

    So does everything else in the universe. Everything is free to do what ever it wishes within the limits of its nature and available energy. Freewill is a basic characteristic of our universe, like mass, electric charge and magnetic force. When we see it at a remove we call it "random" behavior. When we experience it from the inside we call it "free will".

    On the other hand nothing is without forces acting on it. The sum total of the forces to which something is subject constitute "its Nature". None the less when all forces , constraints and limitations are accounted for there is still some wiggle room. The wiggle room is where "free will " acts.
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  78. #77  
    Forum Sophomore cluelusshusbund's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    ...when all forces , constraints and limitations are accounted for there is still some wiggle room. The wiggle room is where "free will " acts.
    Can you give an esample of a person usin ther "wiggle room".???
    Go here an play the "Guess Game".!!!

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/gener...uess-what.html

    When the curent game is guessed... post anuther photo for us to... "Guess what this is" :-)
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  79. #78  
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    Maybe the "wiggle room" is the same place as the "gap" that God lives in.
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  80. #79  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Maybe the "wiggle room" is the same place as the "gap" that God lives in.
    Sorry to have used a turn of phrase that was outside your comfort zone.
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  81. #80  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    ...when all forces , constraints and limitations are accounted for there is still some wiggle room. The wiggle room is where "free will " acts.
    Can you give an esample of a person usin ther "wiggle room".???
    You chosing to respond to this post.
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  82. #81  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    ...when all forces , constraints and limitations are accounted for there is still some wiggle room. The wiggle room is where "free will " acts.
    Can you give an esample of a person usin ther "wiggle room".???
    You chosing to respond to this post.
    i think what he is trying to say is free will is only to a certain degree your mind decides the general thought action or whatever it may b and you fill in the details with your free will. This to me seems to happen to some extent , simply because i don't think about every single option in a certain situation i simply think of the reasonable explanations (most of the time). The extent to which this happens is up in the air but to truly say if we have free will a clear definition must be emphasized. . As for the supposed anticipation of stimuli i wonder if this may be a result of an lag giving time for the boundaries to be set, but then again i am no neurologist so i am probably contradicting some basic principles of neurology with this theory so please forgive me.
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  83. #82  
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    thre is always a limit! so thre is limit to our free will, then start something preplanned! if you are intesested in religion then tell me i shall provide you full explanation
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