To a certain extent, yes. I believe we all have choices, I don't think anything (other than perhaps society, friends and family! lol) guides our "daily" (or unimportant) decisions. As to the general direction of our lives, I don't know. Maybe God directs us, maybe he leaves us to our own devices in the hope we will find our own way. And of course a lot of people don't believe in God so maybe it'd be better to suggest a higher power rather than God per se.
I think we probably are guided in some way, just as I think there is an ultimate purpose to life(other than what we may see), that is, we're not just here by chance. JMHO
Posts: 1111 | Registered: May 2003
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I agree with what Valentine says about freewill. I presume that's what your referencing in the original post, so I'm not going to type it all out.
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tongue has a point in that the free will can be influenced by a higher power. But if the power is greater than us and influencing us, then it wouldn't be free, really. How could we resist? So I think there are opposing influences (A "lower power"?) To some degree I think it is animal instinct that could be considered the lower power influence. If the lower power is inside us, perhaps the higher power is as well.
So while I believe in a God, I think He is an example. He doesn't have to influence us directly, other than to encourage us to be our best selves, and overcome the bad aspects of our animal selves. We have to have the animal self. I think a successful life is a process of taming the body. If the body is merely imprisoned, it will still be wild when the body and spirit are reunited at resurrection. That's just my 8 cents.
Edit: Though I do believe in the need for a savior. from a theologucal standpoint.
okay here is an essay that is fairly clear (although i can't guarantee that since its me) If you have any questions email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The concept of free will is one that we all know about. If one chooses to take a course of action, they can be held directly responsible. Nothing that suggests otherwise has really been talked about. I propose that perhaps we cannot be held responsible for our actions, our decisions. The choices we make.
There are many different examples one can use to display my argument. The one that comes up most in discussions is the choice to commit murder. The common thinking is that a when a human being takes the life of another, there is a punishment and the punishment is deserved. I believe that murder deserves sympathy and compassion, as opposed to the hatred that they receive. When a murderer commits the crime, he always thinks that what he is doing will do more good for him than it will bad, no matter what the crime. If someone comes home to find his wife in bed with another man, some may feel so much rage towards this other man that they believe that it is best for them to die. Even if they donít feel that a few minutes later, they feel it at the time. They commit the crime because it is justified in their mind.
What exactly is insanity?
One may say that, just because its justified in their mind, doesnít make it right. I agree that while it doesnít make it right, it also isnít right to blame the person whose mind it was justified in. When one commits murder, the court will analyze whether one is insane or not. I suggest that everyone who commits murder is just as insane as next. Just in a different way. When one is insane, their is something in their mind that is very different from everybody. So really, if iím different from you, i could be insane by your standards. Murderers obviously have something very different going on to justify the murder. If they didnít, and they thought just like those who didnít commit murder, they wouldnít commit the crime.
Everyone is made differently
Everyone is made differently, I choose the word made very specifically to incorporate your soul should you believe in that. This is obvious from birth and all the way through life. Some people just have a knack for playing sports, some are naturally good at music. Some are intelligent, some are strong, some are born with diseases etc. There is no denying that every person is created differently. This is leads into seceptabilty. Some people are more seceptable to do certain things than others. Some people are manipulatable, some are strong willed. Those who commit murder were made with the potential to commit murder. Judging by what we have seen with other traits, such as intelligence, some are more likely to commit murder than others. In other words, they were made differently. Insanity? Some people are born into horrible families and are mistreated and grow up to be successful and normal by societies standards. Others grow up to be drug addicts, murders etc. In nearly the exact same situations, there are two very different outcomes because they are two very different people thinking in two very different ways.
As a side note, one sees this commercials on TV for being a coach and ďturning a life around.Ē It shows a child showing up for practice early because (one assumes) he is having problems at home. And it shows him being happy when the coach shows up and the coach being kind to him in return. What if that coach didnít come into their lives? Its been realized that a coach can turn a life around therefore they realize that this child could easily become a criminal, but how is it the child's fault if that coach never does come into their lives?
Everything that happens, happens for a reason
Everything that happens happens for a reason, or should I say everything that happens happens because of something else. I was having this discussion with my friends on a bus to Vancouver and they challenged me by saying ďif the mountain collapsed and squished this bus, what was the reason for our death.Ē I looked at him strangely and replied with ďum, the reason we died is we have 10 tones of rocks directly over top of us.Ē He had confused my use of the word reason with a divine reason. If there is a divine reason, it is impossible to know and is moot for this argument. The reason we died is because we had 10 tons of rocks on us.
Every desision one makes, one makes for a reason/interpretation
Every decision a human makes, they make for a reason. No exceptions. The decisions you make are based on your interpretation of things that have happened before. When you interpret something, you draw meaning from it. So one interprets everything little shred of information they receive, even if their interpretation is beyond their control, such as how certain tastes effect you. That's just how you were made. Think back to every simple little choice you have ever made and think if its possible that it wasnít based on other things. It could be something as simple picking which chocolate bar. Which one is your favorite? Have you found change and new things to be good? Do you like trying new things? The decision you end up making is on you reacted to the chocolate bars in the past. You make your decision based on the meaning you drew from eating chocolate bars or perhaps doing other things new in the past. Interpretation. What if the decision is random? I donít think there are such things as random decisions, just decisions that may appear random, even to yourself. The best example of a random decision is perhaps a maze. When one is faced with the possibility of either going left or right, one will either go the way that they think is towards the end, or they will go the way that leads away from the end, depending on how they think. But each choice is made for a reason. The first reason being that that path will lead them to the end, the other is made because they feel that they are being tricked and the less obvious answer is the right one.
Summing up murder When a a murderer choses to commit murder, he does so for a reason. His interpretation of other things in his life decides the whether he will pull the trigger or not. If he is made seceptable to committing murder, his interperatation of things will be very different than those who do not choose to commit murder and his interpretation will lead to the justification of the crime in his mind. Therefore, a killer cannot be blamed for his actions. So, now what? What do we do now? We cannot make committing murder an incentive for fear of just causing more. I suggest a different, more humanitarian outlook on the punishment of murderers. Perhaps the choice of being locked away for life or the choice to be killed. I donít know about you, but I would rather be killed than put in a cell for my whole life.
Just because a certain decision is not random, that does not mean the individual has not exercised their free will in making it. It does not mean we don't have any control over the decisions we make.
For example, I go to the refrigerator and then to my cabinets and find that there is no food in the house. So I decide to go to the grocery store to restock my kitchen with food. This did not mean that I had no other choice but that. I could also choose to drive down to McDonalds and get a burger and fries. Or I could go to Outback and get prime rib and then have cheesecake with hot caramel sauce for desert (ooh, now there's an idea). I could also choose not to go out to eat, not to restock my kitchen and go on a hunger strike over the high price of food (those dinners at Outback are pretty darn expensive in proportion to my salary). Taken to its extreme, the consequences of this last alternative are awfully dire, but it is an available alternative all the same. It seems to me that I have a great deal of control over which decision I make in this, and in most, situations. My universe of possible decisions in this, as in most situations, is not infinite, to be sure, but it is not predetermined to one specific decision, either.
My feeling is that we do have free will. Further, even if I am wrong, I believe that it is important to go ahead and behave as if it does exist.
Posts: 2454 | Registered: Jan 2003
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quote: For example, I go to the refrigerator and then to my cabinets and find that there is no food in the house. So I decide to go to the grocery store to restock my kitchen with food. This did not mean that I had no other choice but that. I could also choose to drive down to McDonalds and get a burger and fries. Or I could go to Outback and get prime rib and then have cheesecake with hot caramel sauce for desert (ooh, now there's an idea). I could also choose not to go out to eat, not to restock my kitchen and go on a hunger strike over the high price of food (those dinners at Outback are pretty darn expensive in proportion to my salary). Taken to its extreme, the consequences of this last alternative are awfully dire, but it is an available alternative all the same. It seems to me that I have a great deal of control over which decision I make in this, and in most, situations. My universe of possible decisions in this, as in most situations, is not infinite, to be sure, but it is not predetermined to one specific decision, either.
But you would have chose each one of your eating options for reason. You could go get groceries because your parents raised you with the belief that giving your money to a huge company should be something to be avoided whenever possible. You could go get a steak because money is not part of the issue and you like steak.
And why is it important to act as if there was when we could be causing unnecessary pain?
quote:You said on the OSC forum freewill "I believe in free will. I must." why must you when beleiving in it is potentially causing us harm.
Laurence, I believe the whole question of "free will" should be unasked.
All our decisions are based on our own previous knowledge and experience, and external influences (nature, nurture, peer pressures, other pressures). Our decisions are "free" in as much as we chose to acquiesce or fight the external influence. But our decision are otherwise based on our past experiences, and to an extent our natural predispositions. A truly "free" decision would have to be based on nothing, and would therefore be no better than a random selection, and would be pointless to discuss.
Laurence, I just took the time to read your essay, and I find some serious problems with it.
Let's say that I'm poor. Let's also say that I'm not too smart. I know right from wrong, I know how to lead a reasonable life, but I don't like to go to work. I didn't do well in school, and I dropped out. I live with friends in a van, down by the river. I have no job.
It's my week to get groceries for me & the guys, but I have no money. Oh, and I have a gun.
I hide in an alley, and when someone walks buy, I assault them for their cash. They don't have as much as I want, so I shoot and kill them.
Are you saying that I am NOT responsible for my actions? Are you saying that I need compassion, rather than incarceration?
Everyt step along the way, I made decisions based upon who I am physically, and what learning and experiences I have gained. And every step along the way, the universe responded by providing me with typical responses and outcomes to those decisions. I continue to decide and act, and the universe continues to respond.
I finally decide to kill someone. How am I not at fault?
Your essay talks about murder as if it's some theoretical discussion. It's not. If you want to talk about real things, then talk about real things. Real people, real decisions, real actions. Real murder. These things do not happen in some ivory tower vacuum.
For goodness sake, you're here on an Orson Scott Card forum! I think that it's safe to say the reason most of us are here on this forum is because of the way he writes about the way that people make decisions about their actions!
The need to establish boundaries seems to apply to L's slippery slope of individuality, at one end, and insanity on the other. I mean, if everyone is so individual, is it really possible for anyone to ever understand anyone? This, by itself, would make this an illegal (read: unproductive) question to discuss. Your whole premise is that even if we say we agree, we really can't know what the other person meant when they said the thing we thought we were agreeing on.
Also, no one picked up the idea of an opposing force to a higher power. You can only believe in free will if you believe in both. Most people don't believe in the opposite of God, so they are confused about free will.
Posts: 11017 | Registered: Apr 2003
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quote:For goodness sake, you're here on an Orson Scott Card forum! I think that it's safe to say the reason most of us are here on this forum is because of the way he writes about the way that people make decisions about their actions!
That would lead me to believe that this a very forum related topic. Besides, I can't think of a better crowd to debate this in.
quote:I finally decide to kill someone. How am I not at fault?
Well, it all leads back to justification branching into interpretation.
If you chose to kill somebody, somehow the murder would be justified in your mind. I believe it is explained in my essay.
quote:But you would have chose each one of your eating options for reason.
I guess I'm a little confused here. Why would a decision not be under a condition of free will just because you have a reason for choosing that decision? This makes no sense to me. If you have three options to choose from, and two reasons for choosing each option, you still make the choice you make, presuming that no one is holding a gun to your head and telling you which choice to make. Are you saying that for a decision to be made under a condition of free will, it must be made not only not under compulsion but completely randomly?
Posts: 2454 | Registered: Jan 2003
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Yes by definition you are acting out free will. But really, your just acting out how you(neurons, brain, soul whatever) responded to the taste of each choclate bar.
Or, if you go out and buy a choclate bar that you hate to prove me wrong, you would be buying that because you(neurons, brain, soul) reacted a certain way to this thread.
Posts: 247 | Registered: Jun 2003
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There is no God. On the brighter side, there is also no Satan. There's just us.
Those of us not mentally challenged ae capable of understanding the consequences of our actions.
If I jump off a cliff, I will fall. (Physical "law")
If I commit murder I will get caught and punished. (societal "law")
If I slice cabbage up really, really thin, add some carrot shreds and then some mayonnaise, I will get a condiment (Coles' law).
Laurence, I don't understand the importance you place on "Justification."
Being able to justify something in your own mind does not make it right--and it most certainly does not remove you from the law of action/consequence.
Just because you might be able to trace a person's actions back to some particular stubed toe when they were 7 months old does not mean that they are incapable of making a choice as an adult.
(I'll get back to this. But the last time I stopped in the middle of a thought and forgot to post, my kids went on to Nintendo.com, and I lost my work)
Posts: 1862 | Registered: Mar 2000
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I would similarly love to hear your flawless logic that the universe is not run by a 27 year old pink unicorn named Maurice.
And I'm still very unclear about your thoughts re. choice, reaction, and justification.
Re. choice (free will)--I have made the case before (and if I could get this site's search engine to work for me, I'd link to it) that free will--as most people refer to it--is an illusion. You are, at this moment, the sum product of your natural/physical self, and all the experiences you have had until now. Your "personality" (or soul, if you would) is not determinate at birth, or predictable. There is too much random chance thrown into a person's life to know how they will turn out. All your decisions are based on this nature/nurture environment as I have described. This sum-total is, in essence, "you."
If "free will" is based on something "other" than this nature/nurture sum-total, then what is it based on? If it is based on something, then is it free? If all your decisions are based on what you are and what you know, then what else contributes to that decision? How is that decision not "bound" by your current "state?" And here's the confounding part: if your choice is not based on your current mental/physical "state" (and when I say "state," I am thinking strongly of "state space" diagrams from my advanced digital servos course), then what is it based on? If that choice is not based on something that is in some way related to "you," then why is it important to call it "free will?" It approaches a randomly generated response.
I believe that a person is, to a large extent, bound by his or her own past. It's a probability thing. A Gaussian curve. The typical response is in the middle of the curve (all curves are unique to all people...continue). There are chances that a person might respond towards one end or the other. If you threaten me with a stick, I am not likely to sing the "Star Spangled Banner". Given a range of typical choices, a person may exercise their free will to select from one of those choices. That choice instructs their next choice and so on down the line.
They have free will, but it is not "free without bounds."
But all your talk of "justification" is meaningless (as I understand the use of the word "justification.") Saying an act is "justified in your own mind" is great, and as far as that goes, correct. But it does not do anything to free a person from the responsibility of their choices.
And if we don't have "free will," and are bound by our past and current chemistry, and all our past experiences, part of those experiences is the experience of cause and effect. If you kill a man, you will (hopefully) get caught, tried, convicted, and sent away.
Let's use this woman who killed a man by running him over and impaling him in her windshield as a case study.
She was totally stoned out of her mind when she hit him. She was afraid that she would get in trouble if she reported the accident. Her actions were all fully justified in her mind.
1) I know you are not going to say she is innocent, right?
2) She chose to take ecstacy, and alcohol, and drive.
3) The guy took about a week to die! After two days, one would think that she would be down from this high.
4) She was a nurses aid. She was, by legal definition, aware of the outcome of her actions: both in taking the drugs, and in leaving the guy in her windshield. (My wife is an attorney, I am a professional engineer. Neither of us is allowed to claim "ignorance" of our actions, certainly not when they pertain to our respective fields of study and practice. This woman is similarly "bound" by her profession)
This woman had multiple opportunities to exercise her "free will" and do the right thing for this man. She repeatedly chose not to.
Your turn, Laurence. Tell me how she was justified in her actions, and need not be held accountable for the choices she made.
Oh, and while you're at it, tell me where God was for the man impaled and dying in her windhield for seven days.
First of all, I cannot say that the universe isn't run by a unicorn named maurice. However, I do not claim to know that it isn't. I have no idea if a god exists or not. I believe one does. But I do not claim to be sure of his existance.
For the record, I am not a christian. I couldn't care less if god exists or not. And where was he when that man was dying on a windshield? I don't know, how am I supposed to answer that? Maybe everything is meaningless or is part of some grand scheme either way, one cannot possibly argue the existance of god.
You misunderstand me. This women is not innocent. She commited a crime.
Never once did I use the word innocent.
However, she is as much responsible for her choice as any other choice anybody ever makes. In my opinion, Not responsible at all.
This women clearly thinks differantly from you or I. If she thought the same way, she would not have not done something as terrible as that.
She was made with the capability to commit what I would call murder, otherwise she wouldn't have done it (for all I know we all have the capability to knowingly commit murder)
Somehow somewhere, she thought it was best to leave this man to die. It was justified in her mind as you say. Now here is where your not putting what I say together, Justification on its own, your quite right, means nothing. However, I suggest all who commit murder are all "insane" because they think differantly than those who don't. This women chose to commit murder for a reason, and she clearly thinks very differantly than you or I for whatever reason that may be. Something might have done that in her childhood, or, she could have just been born that way.
quote:Also, no one picked up the idea of an opposing force to a higher power. You can only believe in free will if you believe in both. Most people don't believe in the opposite of God, so they are confused about free will
To which I say "poppycock."
And you're right--try as I might, I cannot seem to develop the supposedly required "flawless logic" which so many theists state is the "requirement" to disprove the supposed existence of God.
But, not only am I 100% positive that the universe is not run by a 27 year old unicorn named Maurice, I am simialrly sure that not only was it was not created by any "God" I've yet heard described, but that no being as such exists. You may certainly call it belief if you wish. All I ask is that if someone (and I'm thinking "Pooka," here) wishes to use the concept of God in a discussion, that they first tell me what it is they're talking about. I've heard so many differing and conflicting descriptions of "God," that I want to make sure I know which one I'm talking about.
Back to you. You state:
quote:Therefore, a killer cannot be blamed for his actions. So, now what? What do we do now? We cannot make committing murder an incentive for fear of just causing more
First, I would ask you (again) to explan that last sentence. It makes no sense. Perhaps you mis-used the term "incentive?"
Since it appears to be so important to you that a person can never be blamed for his or her actions, then I conclude that you do not believe in free will. If you state that people are not responsible for their actions, then their actions must be outside of their control. Tell me, are we no more than meat-covered automatons? Is every human action always defined by a person's "state diagram" at a given moment in time?
You believe in God, Laurence. If we have no capability to chose our path...to chose redemption over damnation..then why are we here.
I don't believe in God (to be more specific: I believe that there is no God; it's just easier and far more commonplace to state it as I did originally). I don't believe in an everlasting soul. But I do believe that we (as do dogs, dolphins, apes, and many other "higher order" animals) have the capability to weigh the outcomes of our choices and make ("make" is an important word in that sentence--it implies VOLITION) choices and commit those choices to actions.
Am I, an atheist, then a stronger believer in the value of the human "spirit," than you, a believer in God and Soul and Heaven and Hell; of redemption and damnation? It seems as if I somehow have far more hope for this world than do you.
I must admit, maybe I have misinterpreted you. But I think, perhaps, I haven't.
Steve, I state again, I am not a Christian. I do not believe in the concept of heaven and hell because I don't believe in free will. And as for a soul, I don't know and don't care because we never can know.
Whether things like god exist, we can never hope to know.
For someone who doesn't believe in god, you seem to be quite intent on that we have a purpose here. Why do we have to have a pupose could it be possible that we are just here because we are. Perhaps we are some science experiment and those conducting the experiment are gods or god or whatever.
But why do we have to have a reason to be here. I personally think we are here because we are.
And your right, that sentence made no sense. The point I was trying to make is, we cannot give people an encentive for commiting murder.
Well, this stinks. I guess my whole pompous, self-righteous diatribe about atheists being better than theists just goes right down the tubes, then!
I guess I misunderstood your "everything happens for a reason" statement also. And your "ssywak, how can you possibly claim there is no god? I would love to hear your flawless logic behind that" statement.
But how dare you accuse me of imposing some larger purpose on human lives! I do no such thing. I feel that if there is a purpose to life, we make that purpose ourselves. Since I believe that there is no God, even when religious people claim that they have found their purpose through God, they are still making their own purpose--or allowing someone else to determine that purpose for them.
And again, I apologize most profusely for calling you a theist.
But I still don't understand that sentence. "Encentive" isn't a word.
quote:We cannot make committing murder an incentive for fear of just causing more
I guess you meant "We can not give people an incentive for committing murder, for fear of causing more"
The phrase "make committing murder an incentive," implies that it is an incentive for something else, unspecified by your sentence. But enough. We're (I'm) getting into the "splitting hairs" category here.
Posts: 1862 | Registered: Mar 2000
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Steve- I can't prove there is a God. I was just explaining why people who only believe in God and not Satan are always confused about free will. It's possible that for each of us, own own consciousness is the highest power in our own universe.
But I'd be curious to know what your values are that were offended by the choices of the nurses aid. I'm not trying to say you have none, just that I honestly don't know what they would be. You could as easily say I only obey the 10 commandments for a reward in the afterlife. (I'm not admitting this, I'm saying the whole morality of Belief/Atheism is a two sided thing)
L- Justification occurs after the fact. People can try to work out a justification before something actually happens, but the moment of decision occured before the justification began. That's by my understanding of justification. But my definition of it may be too specialized to be harmonized with yours.
Posts: 11017 | Registered: Apr 2003
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quote:L- Justification occurs after the fact. People can try to work out a justification before something actually happens, but the moment of decision occured before the justification began. That's by my understanding of justification. But my definition of it may be too specialized to be harmonized with yours.
I disagree, in fact, many times something that was justified before the act, is no longer justified after the act.
Whenver you do something its always justified even if you havn't thought about it.
For example, if someone kills someone after they find them in bed with their spouse. Well, this person felt that the best thing to do would be to kill the man in bed with his spouse so that they would feel better.
Afterwards, I suspect, is a differant story.
Posts: 247 | Registered: Jun 2003
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It's possible to formulate questions that have no answer. They can't be proven. It becomes pointless to argue in, about, or around them using any sort of logic.
How about starting off with the idea the freewill is a hypothesis? Maybe people think they have freewill. Define what that is and then pose a test to determine whether it exists or not. can you do that?
(I agree with one poster that this is a dead horse, but I think this type of exploration is necessary and should be repeated)
I was actually thinking of trying to make a test, however, I would have to have a better understanding of the human mind than the best physcologist and the best brain surgeon in the world combined.
I don't agree that this is an illegal question because all none of my ideas are just based on faith, they are based on commen sense.
Posts: 247 | Registered: Jun 2003
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quote:people who only believe in God and not Satan are always confused about free will.
Oh, you mean the Jews!
Ye gads! Or, should I say, "Oy vey!"
Sorry, hon, I really don't think that Jewish people are any more confused about Free Will than any other religious or ethnic group.
Filleted--why must we state the the universe is entirely one way or the other? For the most part--certainly on a "macro" scale, on a human-sized physical scale--it is deterministic. On a micro scale--the scale of particles that can be affected by the random aspects of quantum mechanics, it is non-deterministic.
Wait--with certain chaotic "macro" systems (such as the weather), we believe the world to be non-deterministic.
But the problem is that as "ordered" as things are (we believe the larger universe to follow strict physical laws--we're just not sure what all of them are yet), there is always the possibility of an unexpected ocurrence. Some random meteor rock can swing through amd just plain mess things up.
And people--we're not really the "rational" beings that the philosophers make us out to be. Were not as deterministic as we think we are. Our subconscious minds well up and overwhelm our rational thoughts all the time (well, not "all" the time--lots of times)
It's all somewhat deterministic. But does that really help?
BTW, human minds are, of course, part of the universe.