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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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Question No such thing as choice? - March 19th 2013, 10:49 PM

Alright, so I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I'm not entirely sure how to phrase any of this so bear with me, hopefully you'll see where I'm going...

What if there's no such thing as consciousness/choice? What if each and every one of your thoughts, actions and processes are the result of a very precise line up of atoms/chemical reaction in your brain? An ultimate chain of cause and effect - everything you do is caused by something, which is also caused by something, and so on. Nowhere in this chain do you ('you' as an individual, a conscious being) get to decide and do anything on your own free will. Everything is caused by something else.

For example, you come across a fork in a path and you can either turn left or right. The way you turn isn't down to your 'choice' (I say that loosely, I mean the act of consciously making a decision), but rather the state of your brain at that moment in time. Once you've turned whatever way, it'd be pretty easy to trace the thought processes that lead up to that turning backwards. It'd be a single point-to-point process, no choice involved.

Serious question by the way, even if I am slightly tipsy right now. Thoughts?


   
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Re: No such thing as choice? - March 19th 2013, 11:55 PM

Interesting question/thought process, but you seem to presume the brain is a fixed system, a "precise line up of atoms and chemical reactions." The brain is not a DNA-coded organic computer. It changes in response to inputs we would consider random circumstance. Say you and your twin brother worked at the same factory, but one of you was (by random chance) required to paint cars using aerosol paints. His choice-making capacities and executive function slowly decline over the years as a result of chemical exposure, while yours remain roughly the same. Eventually he loses his job and becomes permanently disabled. After those years, the choices available for him to make are much more limited than those you can conceive for yourself. All by random chance. It could have been you.



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Re: No such thing as choice? - March 20th 2013, 02:22 AM

There are limitations to choice and free will. Everyone likes to think we get to do what we want to no matter what, but social factors affect us, cultural factors affect us, our own capabilities affect us. Hell, I could decide to go to college an become a nurse but in 10 years be like oh shit I should of just gone to be a psychologist what was i thinking but already have a family and there for have to suck it up to keep raising my kids good and proper. Not that that's necessarily the best choice... But you could even look at the brilliant kid who wanted to go to college but who's family couldn't afford it and there for he joins the military instead, or maybe there is a brilliant musician in an Amish family (who don't play music traditionally speaking). Yes, we get choices, but I think that there are limitations to the choices we get to make. Afterall if we all got to have what ever we wanted we'd all be "well hung billionaires with wings" (it's what Raj from the Big Bang says he'll be in his next life for putting up with Sheldon) because there would be no limitations to what we want and not to mention that you get people who just want what they want becuse they want it and don't put in the effort for it. so I think that it is reasonable to say that free will exists, choice exists... but there are limitations to it, we may not like to admit that even the best of us are limited, that even politicians and billionaires can just fuck off and party for 6 months at a time on huge yatchs in the Caribbean, but the limitation exists...




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Re: No such thing as choice? - March 20th 2013, 09:52 PM

Technically there is such thing as a conscious choice. But, those conscious choice are influenced by non-conscious choices. This means that our conscious choice are byproducts of various events, circumstances, genes, mentalities, etc. In other words, our conscious choices are in a sense, not free. However, that doesn't make them non-conscious.


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Re: No such thing as choice? - March 27th 2013, 01:56 AM

I think ur right but I'm 12 so i know nothimg


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Re: No such thing as choice? - March 28th 2013, 12:27 AM

What you're talking about would involve accepting two philosophical views:
1. Determinism
2. Reductive account of the mind, materialism.
There are a number of problems with each of these... your view sounds rather like a sort of radical version of 2. called eliminative materialism, which a lot of people have a lot of problems with. Anyway, I won't go into detail as it would take a long time, but I think it would be worth you finding out about these views. For reference, the opposite views would be called libertarianism (separate to moral or ethical libertarianism, deals with accounts of the mind and cause and effect) and either a non-reductive account of the mind or idealism. I reckon it'd be worth finding out a bit about all of these views to see what problems and supporting ideas philosophers have posed, since it is still a massively debated position and what you've suggested remains a widely held idea. I mean, it's still a hot enough topic that I spent the best part of a year in university studying just that.


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Re: No such thing as choice? - March 28th 2013, 08:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by snappydog View Post
What you're talking about would involve accepting two philosophical views:
1. Determinism
2. Reductive account of the mind, materialism.
There are a number of problems with each of these... your view sounds rather like a sort of radical version of 2. called eliminative materialism, which a lot of people have a lot of problems with. Anyway, I won't go into detail as it would take a long time, but I think it would be worth you finding out about these views. For reference, the opposite views would be called libertarianism (separate to moral or ethical libertarianism, deals with accounts of the mind and cause and effect) and either a non-reductive account of the mind or idealism. I reckon it'd be worth finding out a bit about all of these views to see what problems and supporting ideas philosophers have posed, since it is still a massively debated position and what you've suggested remains a widely held idea. I mean, it's still a hot enough topic that I spent the best part of a year in university studying just that.
Please, go into these problems.
Determinism and "eliminative" materialism do not contravene any physical laws at all. In fact, they're completely in accordance with them, whereas metaphysical libertarianism is anything but.
Regarding the OP, what you've discussed is in essence in keeping with numerous scientific and philosophical schools of thought, but as Dan Dennett has said, scientific findings of today do not "rule out all forms of free will". Look at "compatibilism". It might help you out.


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Re: No such thing as choice? - March 29th 2013, 12:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Mr. Self Destruct~ View Post

Please, go into these problems.
Determinism and "eliminative" materialism do not contravene any physical laws at all. In fact, they're completely in accordance with them, whereas metaphysical libertarianism is anything but.
Regarding the OP, what you've discussed is in essence in keeping with numerous scientific and philosophical schools of thought, but as Dan Dennett has said, scientific findings of today do not "rule out all forms of free will". Look at "compatibilism". It might help you out.
Was that asking me to go into them or the OP to look into them? I thought it was worth pointing them out since I read the OP in a philosophical sense
And I don't think I claimed that they contravened any laws, but there's still philosophical debate surrounding it and it's always worth looking into Personally compatibilism is my preferred view, so I would say to the OP that you're right and it's definitely worth looking at!


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Re: No such thing as choice? - March 30th 2013, 03:07 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by snappydog View Post
Was that asking me to go into them or the OP to look into them? I thought it was worth pointing them out since I read the OP in a philosophical sense
And I don't think I claimed that they contravened any laws, but there's still philosophical debate surrounding it and it's always worth looking into Personally compatibilism is my preferred view, so I would say to the OP that you're right and it's definitely worth looking at!
A lot of the philosophical arguments for free will are bound so tightly in presupposition and meta-ethics they're not generally worth paying much credit.
I'm a philosophy student myself at the moment, and I struggle to find anything but quaint ideas that appeal to the desire for free will on the side of metaphysical libertarianism. I especially find their inability to distinguish their definitions of free will from ideas put forth by indeterminists particularly deductive from their attempted justifications.


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