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Thought experiment on free will Watch

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    The following thought experiment (not originally mine) challenges you to decide what is free will and if it exists.
    ________________________________ ________________________

    Say you are about to decide between two common choices in your life. For the purposes of this experiment let's use the choice whether or not to have a shower in the morning when you wake up. This choice is present every morning every day. For whatever reasons, sometimes you choose to have a shower and other times you choose not to.

    Now the experiment begins. Imagine if one night when you are asleep, a group of scientists enter your house without your knowledge and implants a chip inside your brain without waking you up. This chip is placed inside the exact spot which controls whether or not you have a shower. In addition it has a receiver which the scientists can control via a remote control button.

    They start to observe your behaviour in the morning. Whenever they notice you going to the shower they press the button and lo and behold you no longer choose to have a shower that morning. They continue to watch your behaviour each morning: whenever you choose not to have a shower they leave you alone, but when you do they press the button.

    At no point do you ever suspect or realise that you have a chip in your brain or that you are being controlled.
    ________________________________ _______________________

    Here is the question: Do you have free will if this group of scientists is changing your choices?

    Second question: What if the scientists change their mind and no longer decide to push the button, instead letting you choose normally?

    Final question: What if the scientists lose the remote control button and no-one knows if it is being pressed or not? Do you have free will then? Is it possible to have absolute free will?


    All answers will be appreciated!

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    My answers:
    1) No
    2) No
    3) No, No
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    1) No
    2) Yes
    3) Possibly yes
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    (Original post by 1RM)
    1) No
    2) Yes
    3) Possibly yes
    This.

    It needs to be entirely your own choice to be considered free will.

    That's not something people are going to disagree on.
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    1) No
    2) Yes
    3) Schrödinger's Cat
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    (Original post by Gucci Mane.)
    This.

    It needs to be entirely your own choice to be considered free will.

    That's not something people are going to disagree on.
    But you do choose to not go to the shower (even if you wouldn't be allowed to choose otherwise). Aren't you choosing freely if nothing is pushing you to choose it?
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    (Original post by Zargabaath)
    1) No
    2) Yes
    3) Schrödinger's Cat
    I'd be interested to know how it is similar to Schrodinger's cat!
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    (Original post by 1RM)
    1) No
    2) Yes
    3) Possibly yes
    Do you still believe we have absolute free will even if it's possible our brains could be made of a number of these 'chip' devices?
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    (Original post by xylas)
    Do you still believe we have absolute free will even if it's possible our brains could be made of a number of these 'chip' devices?

    Anything is possible. We could just be pre-programmed by aliens who place bets on us.....


    Yes we have free will.
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    (Original post by 1RM)
    Anything is possible. We could just be pre-programmed by aliens who place bets on us.....


    Yes we have free will.
    So basically you don't know for certain we have free will but you believe it to be more likely than not?
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    (Original post by xylas)
    So basically you don't know for certain we have free will but you believe it to be more likely than not?
    No one can know anything for certain.....


    But yes I do. The evidence or lack of leads me to believe we do have free will.
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    (Original post by 1RM)
    No one can know anything for certain.....


    But yes I do. The evidence or lack of leads me to believe we do have free will.
    Well that's not strictly true: I know for certain you and I will die.

    I also believe we have free will but I would say I am as certain as is possible; not related to any evidence but because of logic.

    I believe in free will more than I believe in gravity.
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    (Original post by xylas)
    Do you still believe we have absolute free will even if it's possible our brains could be made of a number of these 'chip' devices?
    To be fair in the literal sense I don't believe we have any free will at all. The way I see it the universe is almost totally cause and effect. With one event being a concequence of everything that came before it.

    But in everday use, free will is defined based on how we perceive we act without outside influence. So if that's how our brains work, then yes under this definition we do have free will.
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    (Original post by xylas)
    Well that's not strictly true: I know for certain you and I will die.

    I also believe we have free will but I would say I am as certain as is possible; not related to any evidence but because of logic.

    I believe in free will more than I believe in gravity.
    No you don't. We may never die. What if we aliens come to Earth with super technology that can make us immortal.
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    (Original post by Zargabaath)
    But in everday use, free will is defined based on how we perceive we act without outside influence. So if that's how our brains work, then yes under this definition we do have free will.
    Even if you accept that loose definition of free will, we still don't have it. Our brain's output (behaviour) is determined solely by our brain's input, hence it's impossible to do or even think anything independant of outside influence.
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    (Original post by Zargabaath)
    To be fair in the literal sense I don't believe we have any free will at all. The way I see it the universe is almost totally cause and effect. With one event being a concequence of everything that came before it.

    But in everday use, free will is defined based on how we perceive we act without outside influence. So if that's how our brains work, then yes under this definition we do have free will.
    Ah ok but then why did you answer no to the first question? Surely we still perceive to act without outside influence (since we don't know we are being controlled).

    Also can you explain how Schrodinger's cat is related to the third question?


    (Original post by 1RM)
    No you don't. We may never die. What if we aliens come to Earth with super technology that can make us immortal.
    Immortality is 100% impossible, at least as impossible as a perpetual motion machine or reverse time travel.
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    (Original post by xylas)
    I also believe we have free will but I would say I am as certain as is possible; not related to any evidence but because of logic.
    What logic?
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    (Original post by RobML)
    Even if you accept that loose definition of free will, we still don't have it. Our brain's output (behaviour) is determined solely by our brain's input, hence it's impossible to do or even think anything independant of outside influence.
    I disagree. I believe that we have free will in so far as we always have the ability to choose between any two options presented to us. No amount of influence or input can force us to choose one way or the other. In addition, the world does not work in a purely deterministic way so we shouldn't expect a one-to-one relationship between input and output.
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    (Original post by xylas)
    I disagree. I believe that we have free will in so far as we always have the ability to choose between any two options presented to us. No amount of influence or input can force us to choose one way or the other. In addition, the world does not work in a purely deterministic way so we shouldn't expect a one-to-one relationship between input and output.
    The influence and input is what leads to choosing one way or the other. How do you dispute this?
    And yes, it is true that the world doesn't work in a purely deterministic way. On a quantum level there is an element of randomness (at least that is how we currently understand it), but how does free will follow from randomness? Origins of effects are either deterministic or random, but neither seem compatible with free will.
    Free will would need to rely on a third, seemingly inconceivable origin of effect.
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    (Original post by RobML)
    Even if you accept that loose definition of free will, we still don't have it. Our brain's output (behaviour) is determined solely by our brain's input, hence it's impossible to do or even think anything independant of outside influence.
    Agreed, but the everyday free will definition disregards the bigger picture for the sake of practicality. There's enough variation and frequency in factors that govern our behaviour that it's easier to just say we're responsible for the actions. It's not a very accurate term.
    I've not articulated it very well in my previous post.

    (Original post by xylas)
    Ah ok but then why did you answer no to the first question? Surely we still perceive to act without outside influence (since we don't know we are being controlled).

    Also can you explain how Schrodinger's cat is related to the third question?
    I was going by the everyday use of free will. Let me put it like this, if I punch my sister in the face, I'm to be held accountable because I "chose" to do it. Now logic dictates that I'm not truly resoponsible for that. It's the cause of everything before me. However for the sake of practicality we can say I'm responsible because I thought and acted on it. If we didn't say people were responsible for their actions, society would fall apart.

    Schrödinger's cat basically states that when a variable cannot be observed, it's in all of its possible states simultaneously. I.e - the cat is dead and alive
    Similarly, if we can't observe whether the button is pushed or not we assume it's both pushed and not pushed. That we both do and don't have free will.
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    (Original post by RobML)
    The influence and input is what leads to choosing one way or the other. How do you dispute this?
    And yes, it is true that the world doesn't work in a purely deterministic way. On a quantum level there is an element of randomness (at least that is how we currently understand it), but how does free will follow from randomness? Origins of effects are either deterministic or random, but neither seem compatible with free will.
    Free will would need to rely on a third, seemingly inconceivable origin of effect.
    Of course I dispute that. All of my choices are made by me alone. Even though I can be influenced to some degree, at the end of the day it is I who has the executive control over my choices.

    The universe is not random. Neither is free will. I do not for a second believe in metaphysics or some kind of spiritual force that can violate the conservation of energy. But logically I believe free will to follow from the nature of choices.

    A simplified version of my argument is: if we didn't have free will, we wouldn't have choices. There can not be illusion of choice since we know we are making them. If that were not the case, we would not perceive it as a choice. QED
 
 
 
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