Free Will


Because other things in the physical world don’t have human consciousness.


@Frankie no.


No, we do not have free will, but that does not mean it should have implication in ethics.

For all practical intents and purposes we do, and legal sentencing for example, and parental discipline, isn’t just about punishment for bad deeds, but as a deterrent to re-commiting the act.


We don’t have free will, our mental states and consciousness are derived from the interaction of atoms governed by the laws of physics. However, our decision are our own, and I believe our consciousness is analogous to algorithms and logic programming that allowing artificial i telligences and intelligent machines to make decisions, except are counsciousnesses are self aware and use emotion to make decisions many time, as well as to invoke response and to perceive stimuli. However, we also use lagoon and rational thought as well. Therefore, lack of free will doesn’t affect morality and ethics, as our beings make decisions, and we are just extensions of those beings, for all intents and purposes we are the same.


That is likely correct but it is your brain and mind that decide, according to its views, not some other mind and will.

Of course. Action reaction. It is still your reaction and not the reaction of some other will.


“Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills.”


No we don’t have any kind of free will, although that doesn’t mean that we don’t take decisions and that we shouldn’t be held accountable for these.


No, there is no such thing as free will insofar as people transcend the sum of their parts.
But this doesn’t mean that people are also not the sum of their parts, as in blame for what people do can be placed upon the sum they represent, a sum that is not infinitely fluid from one moment to the next.

This has implications for ethics and morality depending on your ideology/beliefs.

Some people tend to be incredibly demoralized by this, being unable to reconcile their idea of their self with deterministic reality.


I think it’s the case that we just don’t know. Both the deterministic account of cause and effect in our universe, and our ability to make free choices are the best explanations we have to describe both phenomena. Although contradictory, I don’t see it feasible to abandon one over the other. Rather like other contradictory theories such as quantum physics vs general relativity we just have to use both and wait until an explanation comes along that reconciles the two. Perhaps it’s the case that our choices lay outside the rules of determinism and randomness despite those being the only concepts we have of physical processes.

The idea that our free choices are illusory doesn’t cut it for me - it goes against the most basic intuition we have, something that just seems true as a starting point to do anything, maybe even before our ability to reason. Also, saying it’s an illusion doesn’t really explain anything; we still have the phenomenon of new knowledge/thoughts/choices originating from our minds in an unaccounted-for way. We can describe the physical picture of what’s going on through brain-scans ect. but not how such things that have meaning come into existence.


I feel compelled to say that quantum physics and general relativity DO NOT contradict each other. The problem we have is with the transition from one to another, general relativity is great to describe infinitely large systems, quantum physics is great to describe the infinitely small but if you start on one side of the scale and try to continuously describe your system going to the other end you are going to hit a wall where you would have to switch theories but we don’t have a “smooth” transition between the two; and that’s what a unification theory would be, that smooth transition between the two.

Do we though ? That would be diminishing the information entropy of a closed system, which I think contradicts the second principle of thermodynamics applied to information entropy.




That seems like trying to have your cake and eat it too.


It hinges on the limitations of human comprehension of the underlying factors that affect their decision, which means that even though your brain is deterministic we currently can’t predict exactly what you will do, we do know that part of the factors that influence that decision making is interaction with other brains and thus upholding a moral system and making people accountable for their action is a way to steer those decisions in a direction we find to be more desirable.


Contradict is probably the wrong word to use in that context you’re right - but I think my point still stands. You can adopt two irreconcilable theories that explain different things. If they both individually explain the particular phenomena they intent to explain better than any alternative then it should be the explanation that’s adopted (until a better theory comes along).

I know little about this specific point so I’m just going to refer you to this instead of attempting to explain it myself:

To answer your question “do we though?”, yes we still have the phenomena of new thought/knowledge/choices being created. I don’t think “Free will is an illusion” sheds any light on that.


That intuition is probably rooted in our biology, but that has no impact on the reality of the situation.

We can’t describe what a person is thinking completely (yet), however we can tell that thoughts and actions are formed in our brain before we are even aware of them.


Possibly, I’m not ruling it out. I’m just uneasy to except it. I’d have to admit my immediate experience is illusory, which just feels wrong and the most basic level, it’s almost just a starting point in life that we make choices. It’s sort of like radical-skepticism, sure I can’t prove external reality exists but to except it doesn’t exist just seems wrong.

Yes, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with free-will. We already knew before such experiments existed that choices are mostly unconscious.


That demonstration that you quoted is actually wrong, because the maximum entropy of the universe is bounded and thus does not “grow”. (Because the universe doesn’t actually expand like most people imagine it, as some kind of cosmic balloon, because is space is expanding inside of itself, which is a bit hard to explain simply (for further details see “universe scale factor” and the simple solutions of Einstein’s field equations)). I could try to give a more detailed demonstration of this but don’t currently have the time so ask me if you want the complex version.


It does though, as it means we have no conscious control over actions and thoughts, which contradicts the idea of free will.


In a practical sense, yes.

But in technical sense, no.

It depends on exactly what one means by free will.


Leave aside this for a moment.

What is your position on creativity? Specifically in this case human creativity. How is that at one point in the past a thought, or piece of knowledge, or piece of information was not around, but now is around? For example a child doesnt contain the thoughts and experience that it will have when it is an adult. Surely its the case that these things are newly created?

That doesn’t mean we don’t have free will.

You can show that a decision has already been made before it enters consciousness, say if I pick up a pen, before I think “Im going to pick up this pen” motor neurons have already lit up etc. before the thought, yes, sure. But that doesn’t tell us anything. It may be the case that our consciousness is the product of such decisions rather than the cause of them, or it may be that the conciousness is the decider of whether to go through with the decision (the same brain activity can show in people who have not picked up the pen). Either way, the decision - wherever it originated - has still been made, whether it is a concious decision has no bearing on whether it’s a “free” decision.

Besides, I would say that most actions we partake in don’t enter our consciousness anyway.