Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Rational Atheist
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Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

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Post by Rational Atheist »

Here is a simple, yet powerful, argument against the idea that we 'freely' choose our actions.

1. Our thoughts determine our choices.

2. We do not freely choose our thoughts.

3. Therefore, our choices cannot be free.

I don't think anyone would object to premise 1, especially those who believe in free will, since by definition, a "free" choice, if it could exist, requires a person to consciously make it, which by definition involves thought. Premise 2 may be controversial to some, but with a simple thought experiment, it can be proven to be true. If a person could freely choose their thoughts, then they would have to be able to consciously choose what they were going to think before actually thinking it. In other words, there would have to be a time before a person thinks a thought that that thought was consciously chosen by a person, which literally entails the necessity of being able to think a thought before one thinks it. This, of course, is a logical contradiction. Ergo, free will does not exist.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #161

Post by We_Are_VENOM »

Rational Atheist wrote: Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:18 pm Here is a simple, yet powerful, argument against the idea that we 'freely' choose our actions.

1. Our thoughts determine our choices.

2. We do not freely choose our thoughts.

3. Therefore, our choices cannot be free.

I don't think anyone would object to premise 1, especially those who believe in free will, since by definition, a "free" choice, if it could exist, requires a person to consciously make it, which by definition involves thought.
I agree...I think..
Rational Atheist wrote: Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:18 pm Premise 2 may be controversial to some, but with a simple thought experiment, it can be proven to be true. If a person could freely choose their thoughts, then they would have to be able to consciously choose what they were going to think before actually thinking it. In other words, there would have to be a time before a person thinks a thought that that thought was consciously chosen by a person, which literally entails the necessity of being able to think a thought before one thinks it. This, of course, is a logical contradiction. Ergo, free will does not exist.
At work, my job is so boring that I consciously choose what I will think of to get me through the day while working (true story).

So your implication is proven wrong based on my every day experience at work.

Next..

:D
Venni Vetti Vecci!!

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #162

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Miles wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 3:22 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun Jan 02, 2022 11:14 am
Miles wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 5:06 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sat Jan 01, 2022 10:27 am
Miles wrote: Fri Dec 31, 2021 5:51 pm
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Fri Dec 31, 2021 12:49 pm
Rational Atheist wrote: Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:18 pm Here is a simple, yet powerful, argument against the idea that we 'freely' choose our actions.

1. Our thoughts determine our choices.

2. We do not freely choose our thoughts.

3. Therefore, our choices cannot be free.

I don't think anyone would object to premise 1, especially those who believe in free will, since by definition, a "free" choice, if it could exist, requires a person to consciously make it, which by definition involves thought. Premise 2 may be controversial to some, but with a simple thought experiment, it can be proven to be true. If a person could freely choose their thoughts, then they would have to be able to consciously choose what they were going to think before actually thinking it. In other words, there would have to be a time before a person thinks a thought that that thought was consciously chosen by a person, which literally entails the necessity of being able to think a thought before one thinks it. This, of course, is a logical contradiction. Ergo, free will does not exist.
But one can think about choosing what to think next, for example I can think about mathematics then choose to think more specifically about category theory.

So here, thinking about category theory was preceded by a choice, we could repost your list as follows:

0. Our choices determine our thoughts.

1. Our thoughts determine our choices.

2. Our choices determine our thoughts..

3. Our thoughts determine our choices.

One way to escape from the obvious infinite regress is to posit that thinking and choosing are not distinct things but just aspects of a more fundamental thing, what we do, what our will does is not an algorithm, not deterministic, do this then that, then do this then do that, but a more mysterious non-causal thing altogether in which what seem like two different things are not, just aspects of a deeper activity.
So, just what is this "more fundamental thing" you have in mind? Does it have a name? If not, at the very least it must have specific characteristics you can point to. Whatcha got?



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Its name is - I posit - "Free will" that's its name. It is able to direct matter, move and influence the material realm, it is both thought and decision, it is not amenable to analysis, reductionism cannot be used. It is not causal, it is not deterministic, it is not algorithmic.
Obviously this is a preemptive offensive designed to quash any expectation to explain free will's existence, but free will is indeed "amenable to analysis," starting with the challenge to demonstrate its existence. Simply asserting it's a "more fundamental thing" means bupkis as is claiming that it's not amenable to analysis.

You make the claim that free will is a "more fundamental thing" so you have the burden of proof to demonstrate that it is: that, in essence, free will exists.


I honestly don't believe you can do it and will likely beg out of my challenge or simply refuse to reply, but that's just my opinion. 8-)


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Let me address the points you raise which seem to be:

1. Explain

You wrote "explain free will's existence" and I ask what would such an explanation look like? what is an explanation? In science an explanation (aka "theory") is always reductionist, that is how we understand the term "explanation" as an exercise in reductionism. Can you prove that all we observer can be reduced? can be described in terms of lesser things? I don't think you can, if something cannot be reduced, cannot be "explained" in that way does that mean it is not real?
Okay, you evidently don't know what explaining something consists of. Fair enough.

2. Analysis

You wrote "is indeed amenable to analysis" which again is a belief, likely based on a belief that everything can be described using reductionism. But infinite reductionism, is infinite regress which - IMHO - is not actually an explanation at all, there is and must always be, unexplained things remaining.
And again, you evidently don't know what analyzing something consists of. Fair enough.

3. Demonstrate free will exists

I do not have to, I possess it and know that I possess it, cogito, ergo sum as we say. By demonstrate though I think you mean "get me to say it has been demonstrated" and I don't see how that means anything, it is self-evident and self-evident things do not require demonstrating.
And you simply refuse a request. Fair enough.

You simply cannot and will not engage in debate here. Understood.

Have a nice day.


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I think my replies to you so far show a willingness to engage.

Explanations are closely related to analyses, they each involve reductionism, representing some thing as being composed of or combined from other concepts.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #163

Post by Seek »

Every thing that happens happens for a reason. Those reasons cannot be freely chosen.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #164

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Seek wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 10:58 am Every thing that happens happens for a reason. Those reasons cannot be freely chosen.
So how was the first reason established? it can't be by a preceding reason so must have been the result of a choice.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #165

Post by David the apologist »

Seek wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 10:58 am Every thing that happens happens for a reason. Those reasons cannot be freely chosen.
This is not a road you want to go down if you're a skeptic.
"The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed to say it, because it is most shameful.
And the Son of God died; I believe it, because it is beyond belief.
And He was buried, and rose again; it is certain, because it is impossible."
-Tertullian

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #166

Post by Miles »

David the apologist wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 9:03 pm
Seek wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 10:58 am Every thing that happens happens for a reason. Those reasons cannot be freely chosen.
This is not a road you want to go down if you're a skeptic.
Why not? Show me a reason that IS freely chosen, i. e., without cause, and I'll show you an utterly random event that had just as much chance of not being as being.


,

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #167

Post by David the apologist »

Miles wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 12:54 am
David the apologist wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 9:03 pm
Seek wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 10:58 am Every thing that happens happens for a reason. Those reasons cannot be freely chosen.
This is not a road you want to go down if you're a skeptic.
Why not? Show me a reason that IS freely chosen, i. e., without cause, and I'll show you an utterly random event that had just as much chance of not being as being.


,
You do realize how close he's skating to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, right? And that THE PSR basically entails the existence of God, right?
"The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed to say it, because it is most shameful.
And the Son of God died; I believe it, because it is beyond belief.
And He was buried, and rose again; it is certain, because it is impossible."
-Tertullian

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #168

Post by Miles »

David the apologist wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 1:07 pm
Miles wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 12:54 am
David the apologist wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 9:03 pm
Seek wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 10:58 am Every thing that happens happens for a reason. Those reasons cannot be freely chosen.
This is not a road you want to go down if you're a skeptic.
Why not? Show me a reason that IS freely chosen, i. e., without cause, and I'll show you an utterly random event that had just as much chance of not being as being.


,
You do realize how close he's skating to the Principle of Sufficient Reason, right? And that THE PSR basically entails the existence of God, right?
No it doesn't. Some have argued for the existence of god using the PSR, such as Leibniz, but in no way does the PSR "basically entail the existence of Vishnu." That is the God you're speaking of, right?



.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #169

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Miles wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 12:54 am
David the apologist wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 9:03 pm
Seek wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 10:58 am Every thing that happens happens for a reason. Those reasons cannot be freely chosen.
This is not a road you want to go down if you're a skeptic.
Why not? Show me a reason that IS freely chosen, i. e., without cause, and I'll show you an utterly random event that had just as much chance of not being as being.


,
How do you determine if an event is "random"? Would you argue that the presence of the universe is due to a random event?
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: Why 'Free Will' is Logically Impossible

Post #170

Post by Miles »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sat Jan 08, 2022 12:53 pm
Miles wrote: Fri Jan 07, 2022 12:54 am
David the apologist wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 9:03 pm
Seek wrote: Thu Jan 06, 2022 10:58 am Every thing that happens happens for a reason. Those reasons cannot be freely chosen.
This is not a road you want to go down if you're a skeptic.
Why not? Show me a reason that IS freely chosen, i. e., without cause, and I'll show you an utterly random event that had just as much chance of not being as being.


,
How do you determine if an event is "random"?
A random event as spoken of here has utterly no cause whatsoever. As for determining such an event one would have to rule out all possible causes. Could you do this? I certainly couldn't, so fail to see any reason to assert such an event exists. (Some physicists claim that utter randomness does exist at the quantum level while other physicists deny such a thing.)
Would you argue that the presence of the universe is due to a random event?
Nope.


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