Jan 12, 2010

Is determinism against free will?

Hi all,
(New assignment at the bottom)

We discussed the problem of induction in the scientific method and the conclusion seems to be as follows:
1. Most of the key hypothesis made in science are based on inductive thinking, which can be simply put as our ability to find patterns in different incidences of certain phenomena. We cannot always go to the cause of each phenomenon at the beginning. However, this alone cannot lead to scientific truth, but only notions, hypothesis or beliefs, which need to be either verified by experiments (usually this is the case) or reinforced by reason for them to be accepted as fact.
2. Ockham's razor is a means of differentiating between hypothesis, when they are not entirely deductive (and therefore are inconclusive) and thus allows us to select from between half-baked theories and a little more "baked" theories. Thus it is only helpful and not assuring.
3. Scientists are supposed to and so most, do follow the scientific method, wherein we understand that induction is a part of creating the hypothesis. However, due to personal limitations or prevailing peer-bias, they may be misled (usually while creating the hypothesis) and thus may unintentionally break away from the method. Only on rare occassions do scientiists intentionally comitt fraud by manipulating the evidence or ignoring some of it. And yet, science does not fail, since the inbuilt mechanism of peer review (i.e. scientists checking each others work before it is accepted by the rest of the community) ensures that frauds & mistakes come to light and scientific truth prevails.
So let us move further in our random walk through the philosophy of science, to take a look at another debate - Determinism Vs Free-Will.
Determinism simply put is the position that everything in the universe can be determined through certain computational steps once and if we know how to describe each phenomenon in the universe. In loose variants we could restrict this calculation to our immediate surroundings and to certain phenomena.
Free Will is about our abiliyt to choose what we want.
Q. If things are all pre-determined, then how can free will exist? If free will exists then the universe is unpredictable and un-calculable, then whats the point of doing science - an endeavour to explain the universe?
Use the following links to prepare your response -
http://www.galilean-library.org/manuscript.php?postid=43791 (a pedagogical view)
http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/swartz/freewill1.htm (a parochial view)
http://blogs.salon.com/0001561/stories/2002/11/17/freeWillVsDeterminism.html (the theological view)
http://www.trinity.edu/cbrown/intro/free_will.html (a synopsis)

(I am exaggerating things a little bit but this is the extreme and mostly resolved part of the debate. the actual ongoing debate is rather subtle and somewhet difficult to comprehend at first sight)


  1. 1) Determinism can be defined as :
    the way things will be is a result of how things are and the work of natural laws.
    It means that determinism involves 3 main aspects:
    The way things are;
    Natural laws;
    The way things will be.
    Whereas, the free will can be satisfied by fulfilling following 2conditions: -
    1) We must have two or more possibilities 'genuinely open' to us when we face a choice.
    2) Our choice must not be 'forced'.
    Now, if all things are pre-determined, it means that the things will happen in those ways only in which they are bound to happen or at most, we can predict what is bound to happen in the future by observing the things in present.(Inductive reasoning plays an important role in this stuff). But, we cannot change those things because they are pre-determined. So, there is no possibility of free will because in this case, there is no value to people's thinking. Their job is only to watch the things that are pre-determined or sometimes, predicted by human beings only, but unable to change them.
    2) Let us assume that many people in the various areas of the world are solving a mystery of the universe.(People may be in the form of a group or an individual). Now, people who are working in groups will share their thoughts or philosophy with others although free will exists for the group co-ordination. Many such groups and many such individuals are working in this way. So, finally, someone will definitely solve the mystery. Later on, he will also spresd his method in the world because free will is not concerned with sharing of thoughts. It means that mystery has solved, even though there exists free will.
    So, I want to conclude that science can be done even there is free will and unpredictions.

  2. Let me first tell you what I think it is. First let us talk about free will. In simple terms, what it means that one has a choice of its own in any action. It is condition where one is free to choose or decide anything without anyone putting any restrictions. For example:
    “I choose what my favorite game, color, or number is.” Or “I choose weather or not to be in philosophy.” However, the following things are not a part of free will:
    1. Free will is not applicable to non-living objects
    2. Free will does not include culture, upbringing, or forced pressure of any sort.
    3. Free will also not include desires or beliefs (in a way that would mean one forced upon his decisions by his beliefs or desires)
    All of the examples on free will are based somewhat on the above factors. Let us see the e.g. s explained above. Ones choosing of his/her color or game or number may be easily based on his/her upbringing or culture. One’s choosing to be in philo class, may depend on his/her interest in philosophy at that time, or the physical or mental pressures on him/her. So they can be determined. So it very easy to say that free will does not exist, and we never can choose to do anything right or wrong, as it is pre-determined, however horrifying it sounds.
    But let’s talk about determinism. What determinism means is that given all the present conditions of something (e.g. some phenomena) and its laws/properties/nature, its future can be determined. For e.g. if one some test, and gets good marks, then we know he/she will be happy. if he/she does not get good marks, he/she will be disappointed. So if the person gets good marks, we would know that the person will be happy. Similarly, even the laws of science work the same way. By knowing the conditions in which the phenomena took place, and it’s principles we could find its end result.
    But, deterministic predictions are only based on the conditions at the time in which something take place. In other words, the consequences of some action would X for some conditions Y and property Z. But if conditions Y are to change to Y’ then its properties and result would also change to Z’ and X’. The above example is not based on the following probabilities:
    1. The student would not feel satisfied with the marks.
    2. The students may not care much about the test.
    3. The test may about something rubbish or useless to the student.
    As seen from the examples the determinism cannot be always right thus everything cannot be pre-determined, thus some free will exists. However, there is only a small factor of free will as it is applicable for certain conditions only, as mentioned in the first paragraph. Thus, a lot of things still can be predicted or calculated, thus there is still a point in studying science.

  3. Sorry. Its me Saarang. i am Organic ABC.

  4. “Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives.Acting with free will, on such views, is just to satisfy the metaphysical requirement on being responsible for one's action. (Clearly, there will also be epistemic conditions on responsibility as well, such as being aware—or failing that, being culpably unaware—of relevant alternatives to one's action and of the alternatives' moral significance.) But the significance of free will is not exhausted by its connection to moral responsibility. Free will also appears to be a condition on desert for one's accomplishments (why sustained effort and creative work are praiseworthy); on the autonomy and dignity of persons; and on the value we accord to love and friendship.if all things are pre-determined then that things wil happen in such a way in which it bounds to happen.now bound to happen means the decisions we make aren't really ours after all; at least a good part of them are already decided by other factors.there are two types living and non living creatures.but obvius the living creatures get there chance of free will but non living creatures never get.but free willl exist to the certain limit of a living.when the human mind develops then there attraction towards any particular exists.for example:
    a born baby does not know wat is nature so it doesnt get attracted towards fast but wen it starts living in dat particular place for more tyms den it starts loving it n its free will exists der.we can also put forth that wen any person starts arguing his sub conscious mind or wen he is in dilemma or questioning his mind dat tym the free will exist.Determinism is the view that every event, including human cognition, behavior, decision, and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. Determinists believe the universe is fully governed by causal laws resulting in only one possible state at any point in time.Things remain to be deterministic only when they won't be affected any external things & even people can't guess about the disturbances that may occur. People's freewill comes into practice when such disturbance changes the basic laws of science.free will depends upon natural law and determinism depends upon causal law.natural law is the law or things related to nature and causal law means the law or things that future events are necessary by past and present events combined with laws of nature.people have their free will as they are allowed to do their things in whatever way they wants.so is it not the free will?
    if it is fre will then people can pot their own rules n regulations or their views n can think behind it.science cannot be determined everywhere or everytime.the people who modify the or remould the science not the non-living.so the thinking people means the homo sapiens sapiens can have their free will.determinism is based on observations experiments..if the things to be dertermine den they are determined through external disturbances or external things.
    At last i would conclude that free will plays n imp role.
    by shraddha

  5. Hello Sir.

    First, for convenience we divide the real world into-
    a)Inanimate(Concerning science)

    The inanimate world refers to the non-living objects which are investigated by the physical sciences. Till the 1920s this world was considered completely deterministic and this was also a popular paradigm in defining science. This appears in complete parity with our common sense notion- 'stones and atoms' don't "think". However, the origin of QM in the 1930s has put this view under fire. The true nature of inanimates can thus only be inferred from the philosophical framework of a future ‘unified field’ theory.

    I also disagree with Prathamesh’s view that “Free will can modify science”. I think so because firstly, We believe that science evolved the way it did because it had to. To create science, we had to base our world view on some axioms which have remained unchanged throughout history. (E.g. The axiom that whole is greater than the part). Secondly, people might use their free will to influence others, but many mechanisms like peer-review make sure that the approach that dominates is the one that is the most ‘scientific’ in a particular period of history.

    The animate world mainly considers of thoughts, actions, emotions and choices. The question now arises- “Why do we choose something over the other?” Every newly born human being is nothing but a machine that can calculate and reason- Thus, every newly born human is the same. What then gives us the ability to choose differently as we grow older? Clearly, it is our experiences, culture and upbringing. They are what makes every human being unique- our personal share of emotions and values. These emotions further give rise to a set of unique beliefs and attitudes which are what help us in making choices.
    If we define ‘free will’ as the choice made by living beings without regard to their personal thoughts, circumstances, upbringing, beliefs etc. I don’t believe in the existence of free will. I think this is so because the only way we can differentiate one human being from the other is through their special set of beliefs and desires.



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