How to Join Member's Area Private Library Search Today's Topics p Login
Main Forums Discussion Tech Talk Mature Content Archives
   Nav Win
 Discussion
 Philosophy 101
 essay on free will
 1
Follow us on Facebook

 Moderated by: Ron   (Admins )

 
User Options
Format for Better Printing EMail to a Friend Not Available
Admin Transferred from English Workshop Print Send ECard
Passions in Poetry

essay on free will

 Post A Reply Post New Topic   Go to the Next Oldest/Previous Topic Return to Topic Page Go to the Next Newest Topic 
ShadyMakaveli
Member
since 08-21-2002
Posts 129


0 posted 01-31-2003 10:38 AM       View Profile for ShadyMakaveli   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ShadyMakaveli

When asked the question, should every human being be allowed to have freedom of his or her will? How does one gauge their response? Ideally, as a human being it would be nice to assume we have total freedom of our will. Are humans born and raised to fill certain roles and abide by the rules set forth by the people in power, limiting the freedom of will? Or do humans already have freedom of the will, which is the cause of some of the problems in society today?

Freedom of will is an area of life that is often overlooked. When looked at in more depth, it's more questionable as to how much freedom we really possess. There is a level of control on members of society, the question is, is this control beneficial or is it depriving individuals of living freely? Limitations are placed on free will, we certainly cannot kill, abuse or harrass other people, limitations like those provide order and prevent chaos in the world. B.F. Skinner states "Physical restraint - handcuffs, iron bars, forcible coercion. These are ways in which we shape human behavior according to our wishes,"(Hard determinism, pg. 521). These are ways to reduce an individuals freedom physically. Reducing ones freedom of thought could not fully be controlled in the same sense as physically. Skinner goes on to say, "We control not the final behavior, but the inclination to behave - the motives, the desires, the wishes,"(Hard determinism, pg. 524). This can be true, for example, a child raised told constantly not to do drugs by their parents, is given every reason someone shouldn't. When the child is faced to decide to do drugs, the end behavior no longer lies in the hands of the parent. The child is in control of the end behavior. Thus, providing the freedom to choose what to do when presented with a decision. Displaying that steps were taken to try to control the end behavior, though when the time came, the decision lied in the individual.

G.E. Moore, "If we have free will, it must be true, in some sense, that we sometimes could have done, what we did not do, and that we never could have done, what we did not do,"(Free will, pg. 531). With that said, look at the choices people are faced with in everyday life. Life doesn't come with all the answers or choices with the outcomes laid out for you. For example, if you were to go to a restaurant, you are given a menu with all your choices infront of you. You are given time to decide and have a good idea of what your ordered food will be like. With life most decisions are rushed and rely on gut feelings and the ingrained problem solving skills learned from past experiences, unaware of the ramifications of our choices. We are raised in a society where learning to live with your decisions is crucial, placing responsibility on each individual. Though no two humans will think, rationalize or decide in the same manner, all are held accountable in the same regard, regardless of their upbringing which plays a big role in how people make choices.

To further display how environments dictate behavior. If a person were to live in an abusive environment, chances are they will either be abusive or a victim to abuse later in life. Might seem unbelievable for a person to go back into or be the creator of an abusive environment. This is because abuse is all the person knows, it's not a matter of choice, but is what is known and seems natural to the individual. Regressing back to familar environments that are comfortable is not uncommon, and usually aren't even choosen. Often a person won't realize they have slipped back into a place they shouldn't be in. The point of this is to merely demonstrate we are products of our environment. Humans only know what they are exposed to, and can't behave in any way other than that which they were taught. To expect someone to hear, who is incapable of hearing, would be just as wrong to expect a behavior out of someone who hasn't been taught it.

All humans, maybe not to the absolute fullest degree, possess freedom of the will. As mentioned above, limitations have been placed on the freedom of will, to ensure order is kept in society. Without these limitations there's no telling what state the world would be in. A sacrifice of some freedom to maintain a working society is more than worth it. Though society may not be perfect, the potential state the world could be in without these limitations is unimaginalbe. Our choices might be subconscious or influenced by experience; though we are all ultimately responsible for our actions. A lack of proper upbringing does suffice not knowing any better. Though individuals who suffer from not knowing any better, shouldn't be held accountable at the same level of responsibility as the next person. As individuals we are all different, what's justified and fair for dealing with one person's bad choices isn't going to be the same for every other person. In the end, freedom is neither ours to give or take, but to be enjoyed to the fullest extent by every member of society.

[This message has been edited by ShadyMakaveli (01-31-2003 01:49 PM).]

Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


1 posted 02-08-2003 05:13 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

It's interesting that no one has posted on this one as at other sites this is a big issue. To some extent, this may be due to a certain vagueness on the thread's part. It is unclear what you are trying to get at. I'm going to try to go through this and throw my own spin on it, but basically that there are two basic mistakes here:

1. You confuse the distinction between free will and freedom.

2. You rely on a false dichotomy: the individual v. society

The latter is rampant in these discussions and I've been guilty of the former so try to see this, not as an attack, but as an idiosyncratic attempt to elucidate a very difficult issue.

quote:
When asked the question, should every human being be allowed to have freedom of his or her will?


The first question is oddly phrased. People aren't allowed to have freedom of his or her will, they either have free will or they don't. Free will is the potentiality, not the actuality, of making a choice that is not forced. If someone puts a gun to your head and says, "What will you do?" it leaves your free will intact, if you have free will, but takes away your freedom. In fact, the gun bearer already believes that you have some sort of free will or they wouldn't have put a gun to your head and asked the question. You don't threaten a rock after all.  

quote:
How does one gauge their response? Ideally, as a human being it would be nice to assume we have total freedom of our will.


Not at all, if you take my above definition seriously, something like total free will is just as undesirable as total lack of free will. Given the immense complexity of what it is we actually do in our daily lives, it's nice that most of it is on automatic pilot.

quote:
Are humans born and raised to fill certain roles and abide by the rules set forth by the people in power, limiting the freedom of will? Or do humans already have freedom of the will, which is the cause of some of the problems in society today?


This is tough to understand. If the first question is roughly 'are people controlled by the people in power' then the second question is 'and, if not, is the problem that we can but choose not to listen to people in power.'

The underlying assumption of the second question is that we should listen to people in power and that that would solve our problems; the underlying assumption of the first sentence is that we can't do anything but listen. If there is no such thing as free will, however, you have to ask yourself, who are these people in power and how did they get there? Again, assuming no free will, you have to make an appeal to an outside force (Fate, Nature, God etc.) to explain those people in power. After all, they have no more power than you do. If there is free will, the argument seems to be saying that we should forego it bringing us right back to the first question.

quote:
Freedom of will is an area of life that is often overlooked.


No, it is an assumption, a necessary assumption for any society.

quote:
When looked at in more depth, it's more questionable as to how much freedom we really possess. There is a level of control on members of society, the question is, is this control beneficial or is it depriving individuals of living freely?


The switch from free will to freedom is an interesting move, but it makes it difficult to understand what you are saying. Yes, freedom is curtailed, but not free will. Free will is the base assumption that allows the question of 'how much' freedom to exist. No free will, no reason to worry about freedom.  

quote:
Limitations are placed on free will, we certainly cannot kill, abuse or harrass other people, limitations like those provide order and prevent chaos in the world.


And then you switch back. Free will is not limited, freedom is. We have the ability to want to kill, abuse or harrass etc. all the time, we don't have ability to act on these desires all the time. Why? You assume that it prevents chaos, but chaos, in a metaphysical sense, would incapacitate our free will (for we would not be able to have a coherent thought), and chaos, in a political/social sense would severely limit our freedom (for we would be forced to do things like fight back rather than, oh I don't know, play computer games, read poetry, or join the army.

They aren't limiting, they are enabling. At least the ones you mention here. But this is the point of argument I think you want to get to: what acts limit freedom and what acts enable freedom? This is the question and it's a very difficult question to answer.

quote:
B.F. Skinner states "Physical restraint - handcuffs, iron bars, forcible coercion. These are ways in which we shape human behavior according to our wishes,"(Hard determinism, pg. 521). These are ways to reduce an individuals freedom physically. Reducing ones freedom of thought could not fully be controlled in the same sense as physically. Skinner goes on to say, "We control not the final behavior, but the inclination to behave - the motives, the desires, the wishes,"(Hard determinism, pg. 524).


Again, this is tricky. Skinner makes a distinction between the inclination to behave and final behavior, (Roughly speaking, this is connected but not synonymous with my distinction between free will and freedom. Skinner kind of lets the conscious agent slip by his notice. In fact, that's the whole point of Hard Determinism.), you make a distinction between physical and mental. You say that we can control the physical but not the mental -- at least not completely. Skinner says the opposite. That we try to control the inclination to behave (the mental) but not the final behavior (the physical). Skinner's point isn't yours. Skinner believes that we can control the mental completely, we're just not doing it correctly yet.

There's a reason Skinner's behaviorism is controversial.  

But I think you're right. We can't control the mental completely, but not because we have a soul or some otherworldly free will, but because each of us is in a different position relative to the other. I can completely accept Hard Determinism as an ontological commitment (Simply put, for every cause there is an effect) and still believe that we have free will.    

You haven't touched on this but many have decided to see free will as a causeless cause and this goes against the tenets of Hard Determinism. My counter is that we aren't determined beings but over-determined beings (for every effect, there are multiple causes), which makes free will possible. It is the conflict within ourselves that creates the ability to have free will.  

quote:
This can be true, for example, a child raised told constantly not to do drugs by their parents, is given every reason someone shouldn't. When the child is faced to decide to do drugs, the end behavior no longer lies in the hands of the parent. The child is in control of the end behavior. Thus, providing the freedom to choose what to do when presented with a decision. Displaying that steps were taken to try to control the end behavior, though when the time came, the decision lied in the individual.


Exactly.

quote:
G.E. Moore, "If we have free will, it must be true, in some sense, that we sometimes could have done, what we did not do, and that we never could have done, what we did not do,"(Free will, pg. 531).


This probably needs to be glossed a bit more. I read this apparent contradiction as saying the perfectly reasonable point that free will means we have the ability to choose one thing over another 'now', but that in order to make the choice we did, all our previous choices cannot be changed (for those previous choices are factors in the present choice that we are now faced with).  That is, we wouldn't have the specific choice without the previous decisions.  Still, I haven't read this book so I may be misinterpreting it.

quote:
With that said, look at the choices people are faced with in everyday life. Life doesn't come with all the answers or choices with the outcomes laid out for you. For example, if you were to go to a restaurant, you are given a menu with all your choices infront of you. You are given time to decide and have a good idea of what your ordered food will be like. With life most decisions are rushed and rely on gut feelings and the ingrained problem solving skills learned from past experiences, unaware of the ramifications of our choices. We are raised in a society where learning to live with your decisions is crucial, placing responsibility on each individual.


Sure, but I don't see what the big deal is.

quote:
Though no two humans will think, rationalize or decide in the same manner, all are held accountable in the same regard, regardless of their upbringing which plays a big role in how people make choices.


No, I don't think this is quite true. Contingent factors do play a role in our legal system. Are you suggesting that they play more of a role?

quote:
To further display how environments dictate behavior. If a person were to live in an abusive environment, chances are they will either be abusive or a victim to abuse later in life. Might seem unbelievable for a person to go back into or be the creator of an abusive environment. This is because abuse is all the person knows, it's not a matter of choice, but is what is known and seems natural to the individual. Regressing back to familar environments that are comfortable is not uncommon, and usually aren't even chosen. Often a person won't realize they have slipped back into a place they shouldn't be in. The point of this is to merely demonstrate we are products of our environment.


We are. But that doesn't eradicate free will. Don't confuse tendency with inevitability.

quote:
Humans only know what they are exposed to, and can't behave in any way other than that which they were taught.


Untrue. How would change take place if this were true? You're forgetting that an individual is able to act upon his or her environment, not simply react.  

quote:
To expect someone to hear, who is incapable of hearing, would be just as wrong to expect a behavior out of someone who hasn't been taught it.


This is a misplaced analogy. A person who is incapable of hearing cannot choose to hear, but a person's behavior is not determined by any one factor.

There is never a one to one relationship like that between the loss of hearing ability and hearing and any one or multiple set of environmental factors and a person's choices. What would be wrong would be to expect, in any absolute sense, that we know what it is they are going to do next. We make predictions, we have our suspicions, these are necessary things we have to do, but, precisely because we have free will, they aren't ever simply a matter of one to one cause and effect. Furthermore, the environment is constantly changing, we are never in a controlled experiment.  

quote:
All humans, maybe not to the absolute fullest degree, possess freedom of the will.


Well, you haven't made an argument for this statement but I agree -- more or less. I would say all linguistically competent human beings have free will. This is a tricky point though as I'm not unwilling to concede a kind of freedom to animals.

quote:
As mentioned above, limitations have been placed on the freedom of will, to ensure order is kept in society. Without these limitations there's no telling what state the world would be in. A sacrifice of some freedom to maintain a working society is more than worth it.


I'm going to stop here for the moment for now we get into my second objection: you're assuming that the individual must sacrifice for society.

There's a different way to look at it.

More later.
 
 Post A Reply Post New Topic   Go to the Next Oldest/Previous Topic Return to Topic Page Go to the Next Newest Topic 
All times are ET (US) Top
  User Options
>> Discussion >> Philosophy 101 >> essay on free will Format for Better Printing EMail to a Friend Not Available
Print Send ECard

 

pipTalk Home Page | Main Poetry Forums

How to Join | Member's Area / Help | Private Library | Search | Contact Us | Today's Topics | Login
Discussion | Tech Talk | Archives | Sanctuary



© Passions in Poetry and netpoets.com 1998-2013
All Poetry and Prose is copyrighted by the individual authors