So after listening to Sam Harris' thoughts on free will, I tend to agree with the logic that states humans and indeed all sentient life having no completely independent free will to make their own decisions. Our thoughts are dictated by the current state and development of our brains and our current external conditions, the causes of which can be regressed back indefinitely and completely out of our control. I believe Stephen Hawking alluded to as much when he theorized that the Big Bang set off random movement of matter that determines the path of everything that followed.
To me, Sam's thoughts on this subject are highly philosophical and theoretical. I'm no expert in this field (actually, neither is he), but if I decide to drink another glass of wine instead of shooting my neighbour, to me that exemplifies free will.
My thoughts, not yours...
You posted this question. That's a proof of free will.
Robert Anton Wilson once wrote a dialogue between Pavlov's Dog and Schrodinger's Cat on this subject...
DOG: I have twenty proofs that we're not free.
CAT: I have one proof that we are.
DOG: What's that?
CAT: Who asks, "What's that?"
What do we mean when we speak of "free will"? The word "free" has different meanings or senses. Meanings of words do matter,because most words have more than one dictionary meaning. We have to know just what it is we're talking about, before we can discuss it profitably.
Free Will exists in the moment, for sure. "Do you want fries with that?" for example. But as your life moves on, your choices tend to get more restricted, either by previous choices you have made (example: having a baby) or physical limitations (not skiing anymore because of bad knees).
Someone not able to use free will usually feels terrible (why we use incarceration as punishment).
To deny free will exists would lead to terrible hopelessness.....unless you believed everything was part of Gawds Plan, i guess........
And may I say I grinned a lot while reading this thread?!
If, by "free will", you mean choices are uncaused, no. If the principle of causation operates everywhere in the universe all the time, then every choice we make is the result of casaul factors , e.g. genetics, neural activity in the brain, external and internal events and how they effect us, all the things we've learned,etc.
If,on the other hand, you mean free in the sense of not being coerced or manipulated, or making a conscious choice, then yes, we have free will.
And to take the extreme example, a brain tumour pressing on certain parts of the brain causing someone to commit murder. In the case of true free will, you must believe that person should have the ability to reason and think outside of just what is happening in their brain, which is outside of their control.
I find myself agreeing with you. Where the two sides need to find common ground is where in the timeline does free will come into existence. Presumably most of us believe the big bang set matter into motion, and the formation of stars, planets, plants, trees, wind, ocean, primitive life forms all just happen, no free will. Then more advanced life forms, do people think these animals have free will? Chimpanzees? Or just humans?
I find that the belief that just humans have free will is a somewhat egocentric driven view.
Assuming we mean Free Will regarding the human mind>
I would agree with the concept of everything is result of the previous events and since the Big Bang, Bounce, bubble etc, each event indeed triggered the next adjusting to the new variables existing.
However, we as a homosapien, have a conscious which consist of predetermined events also. But the odd thing I find is that when we talk to our self, we do carry on a conversation, The mind believes it exist in this illusion and it has free will to do what ever it wishes to do But will we get the results expected, maybe not
Sam Harris likens the concept to that which states we are all made of stardust. It's true, and of course we don't feel like we are stardust and it has no effect on our lives , it's just truth. Even if you accept that free will is an illusion, it simply doesn't matter and it's not an excuse to shift responsibility for your actions.
It makes sense that once things were set into motion they would follow a certain and, if one could comprehend everything, predictable path. A good point was made here though, does that mean we are not responsible for our actions? I guess it was determined at the point of the big bang I would write all this.....and this too....