An atheist can't believe in free will

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This topic contains 54 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  jakelafort 3 weeks, 5 days ago.

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  • #52296

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    I’m curious if you read my discussion above of the difference between not having free will and being insane or having an obsessive-compulsive behavior. If we aren’t free, then what’s the difference between that and someone who truly has no control?

    Yes, I read it before I commented. My answer’s the same: It doesn’t matter.

    We’ll still behave the same, either way. Only the belief in free will vs no free will might influence how some people behave. When in court for bad behavior, the philosophical debate about free will shouldn’t influence general outcomes, either. Each individual has unique behavioral patterns that need to be taken into account.

    What should matter in court, IMO, is what could and should have been expected from each offender,  how to best rehabilitate the offender, and how to make public the process of legal intervention and judgement, such that it might best influence or deter other, potential offenders.

    We need to keep improving our knowledge of behaviorism, and how to best prevent future, damaging offenses, starting back as early as early school days and considering how to improve social environments and other life experiences. Make life circumstances better, before a kid feels the need act out, maybe even with a gun.

    The free will debate is just an intellectual exercise, while what really matters is psychology, psychiatry, empathy, and other social support systems, plus knowing what behaviors could and should be expected from each individual person, according to the environment they grew up in, and what environment they’ll likely be returning to. The one size fits all laws should only be starting points in the system, while the system should be made able to adapt better to each individual’s circumstance.

    (While law enforcement, court interventions in some cases, and so on are part of the process, too.)

    #52299

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Pope,

    The issue of free will is related to core questions of our existence.

    What are we? Is our sense of self an illusion? Dualism seems to creep into every thought and utterance related to self. “Oh my body is really achy after that strenuous workout.” But where are you? Where am I? Just WHERE am I? What does self mean? If you’ve ever experienced dissociative states these questions will hit home. It is as though an awareness, an observer, has arisen out of the unconscious automotons of orgnanisms past.

    You’ve echoed what i’ve indicated already. In a sense it does not make any damn difference whether we have free will, whatever dafuq that is. So we mostly go about our business same as always even after recognizing it is another construct that happens to mirror our feelings. Realizations diminishing narcissism may emerge for happy/successful fuckerz who credit their accomplishments to their personal strength. And those who feel less than happy with how shit has turned out may stop feeling as guilty for their shortcomings and failures.

    I think questions of how can our lives be meaningful are bound to arise after we think through these issues. For me it comes down to same existential philosophy that was already in the bank.

    #52300

    Unseen
    Participant

    We’ll still behave the same, either way. Only the belief in free will vs no free will might influence how some people behave. When in court for bad behavior, the philosophical debate about free will shouldn’t influence general outcomes, either. Each individual has unique behavioral patterns that need to be taken into account.

    How does belief/disbelief in free will affect behavior? Well, belief in free will promotes all kinds of misbehavior. It allows us to brand violators as “bad” or even “evil” and to think more in terms of punishment, retribution, revenge, and even state-sponsored murder (capital punishment) instead of understanding and analyzing behavioral causes and rehabilitation, or if rehabilitation seems out of the question, risk minization or containment.

    What should matter in court, IMO, is what could and should have been expected from each offender,  how to best rehabilitate the offender, and how to make public the process of legal intervention and judgement, such that it might best influence or deter other, potential offenders.

    When talking about what could or should have been expected from the offender, it’s easy to lapse back into believing in free will (“You should have chosen not to blah blah blah”) when in reality, the person was behaving as they had to behave. It’s difficult to keep from thinking in terms of a person’s “choices” vs. their decisions, if we think of decisions as driven by forces in them beyond their control, namely the goings on in their brain combined with their personal history. The word “choice” almost presupposes a belief in free will.

    #52362

    TheEncogitationer
    Participant

    Fellow Unbelievers,

    There’s something that no one here is considering: Everything the human species has ever done in the past 2.5 million+ years to live, thrive, and survive has been in defiance of both genetic and environmental circumstance.

    This is true for getting to a place of shelter out of harmful elements and off of an earth which can suck the heat out of a human body in night time temperatures as high as 60° Fahrenheit and as little as 3 hours.

    This is true of finding and making potable water, when lack of unsalinated water can cause kidney failure and death by thirst in 3 days.

    This is true of finding and preparing the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, fats, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements when the lack of them for 30 days cause the body to eat itself and die from starvation.

    This is true of making tools to procure and prepare shelter, water, and food, as well as making and harnessing fire to provide light, warmth, and energy to provide all of these needs.

    This is true of doing all this in the face of disease from the tiniest of microbes and insects, from predation by the biggest, bloodthirstiest of predators, and in the face of crime, enslavement, war, and genocide by larger groups of our own species.

    This is true of moving to places where survival and thriving is easier and where unknown prospects may be better, from the Olduvai Gorge in Southern Africa, to the Sahel and Sahara, through to the Levant, Europe, and the steppes and frozen tundra of Siberia, down to South Asia and across the Ocean to Australia, across the ice-covered Bering Strait to North, Central, and South America. And now to Antarctica and the vacuum of space and the very beginnings of exploring other worlds.

    Every bit of the the human condition is one big defiance of circumstance. This is as big a refutation of Determinism as it gets, and all perfectly within the Natural Universe with no recourse to the Supernatural.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  TheEncogitationer. Reason: Eliminating a redundancy
    #52364

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Enco i give you points for thinking outside the parallelogram.

    And nobody in good conscience can gainsay the appearance of against all odds in the survival of homo sapiens. Witness the numerous kin who did not make it except for a genetic residue when them so hawny got jiggy with it.

    However i can’t see or fathom how that dynamic overcomes determinism either on the greater level of physics or the individual Lucy.

    I understand your argument implicitly though.

    #52463

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    How does belief/disbelief in free will affect behavior? Well, belief in free will promotes all kinds of misbehavior.

    Wow! But that’s only half the story. The way I’d put it, belief in free will promotes all kinds of behavior, acting as though we have it. “For better and for worse”, if one must place values on behaviors.

    I’m imagining now, prehistoric humans, even before we had language. We couldn’t ponder these ideas in detail, much less discuss them as a group. But one’s behavior within our group still mattered to everyone, and often led to consequences. That’s true even for animals, especially pack animals. Face to face, in our group, I’m sure we were less likely to “misbehave”.

    I’ll further speculate that any question of free will was at deeper, lower conscious or unconscious level, and resembled something like “This is difficult, so I wonder if I can actually do this”, whatever the task might be, or just a desire to do something challenging that one has never done before. Then there’s that exciting feeling, YES, I can do this! Or the opposite feeling NO, I can’t, so I won’t try.

    How would that not be the current analog to our feelings of free will? In fact, our ability to intellectualize it and further invent philosophies around it seem to me to be very an unnatural or even preternatural way to think about it. Is it not possible to imagine what free will felt like, even as an illusion, before we could talk and write about it?

    We understand the world we’re in and the world beyond us so much more than we used to. But was not the feeling of free will valid back then, as in “Can I do this”, while it seems such a profound topic to discuss today? All we’ve been doing is adding intellectual fluff to the feeling. Giving it a name, which may never even have been needed at all.

    The way I think of the feeling of free will, it’s even present and necessary animals with brains, since the function of the brain is to make bodies perform, and succeed at doing difficult things. Or choose not to. The “will” to do it feels real.

    Hypothesis: All this talk about free will amounts to nothing more useful than intellectual masturbation. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s been fun for me too. But with all those conversations invested in being so sure there’s a way to prove that free will exists or doesn’t exist… why does it matter so much? Other than as part of some kind of story about how a god gave it to us, and will reward or punish us for our behaviors. And then religious experts get to tell others how to behave. And judges get to decide how responsible we should be held, while guesstimating how we were or weren’t acting with free will.

    How do you think your cat feels about it?

    #52467

    Unseen
    Participant

    Hypothesis: All this talk about free will amounts to nothing more useful than intellectual masturbation. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s been fun for me too. But with all those conversations invested in being so sure there’s a way to prove that free will exists or doesn’t exist… why does it matter so much? Other than as part of some kind of story about how a god gave it to us, and will reward or punish us for our behaviors. And then religious experts get to tell others how to behave. And judges get to decide how responsible we should be held, while guesstimating how we were or weren’t acting with free will.

    How do you think your cat feels about it?

    The discussion of free will matters when people act on it, which is when they decide conduct deserves punishment rather than to be controlled. We can take an offender out of society because we can’t trust their behavior or we can subject them to 50 lashes or even the death penalty.

    It seems you’re arguing that the very concept of free will came along when we developed the linguistic capacity to use the third person in regards to oneself. “Can I blah blah blah?” “Should I blah blah blah?” “What will they think if I blah blah blah?” (I realize that a grammarian would say that those are first person not third person, but I’m looking at it as third person when you think/talk about yourself as though you are someone else.)

    My cat has a limited capacity to conceptualize and think about anything but the most immediate consequences of her actions (she lives “in the moment,” as they say), so if I did believe in free will (which I can’t, because I can’t even imagine what it would consist of), she probably couldn’t have it.

    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by  Unseen.
    #52469

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Significance of free will?

    It is everything. Who, what are we?

    Are we as robotic as protozoa? Layers and layers of unconscious evolutionary biology with an outer shell of awareness arisen recently in the prefrontal cortex. First we realized we are not special selection and therefore not really any more important thatn protozoa, just a natural occurence like any other here on our pale blue dot. And now we wonder whether there is only an accidental qualitative difference between the best and worst among us. Are we justified in feeling king or queen shit for our accomplishments? Are we misplacing our guilt for our shortcomings?

    #52471

    Unseen
    Participant

    Are we as robotic as protozoa?

    Our actions are in accordance with the laws of nature or they are random nonsense. If there’s a third alternative, it’s now time to reveal it.

    #52472

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Take me to your leader.

    Kyphotic, robotic hypnotic.

    I wonder whether the universe generates AI *actual intelligence after the biological model is at its critical stage of near extinction.

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