EXPLORING THE ILLUSION OF FREE WILL 

Chandler Klebs

George Ortega

Creating a world of far less blame,
guilt, arrogance and envy

The world's first, and already successful*  initiative, including two TV shows, to popularize the refutation of free will *How it happened

John Searle, the13th ranked post-1900 philosopher, says that our world overcoming the free will illusion "would be a bigger revolution in our thinking than Einstein, or Copernicus, or Newton, or Galileo, or Darwin -- it would alter our whole conception of our relation with the universe." 

The Washington Post, The New York Times, Psychology Today, Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, USA Today, The Telegraph, Time Magazine, Scientific American, NPR Radio, The Economist, and Science Magazine  all affirm that free will is an illusion

Chandler Klebs is the new administrator of this site. He's also the Executive Producer of the Free Will, Science, and Religion and Impersonal Opinion podcasts.

Exploring the Illusion of Free Will is two TV shows - WHITE PLAINS NY TV and NYC LIVE CALL-IN TVfour books - George'sGeorge's, Nick's, and Chandler's one meetups - NYC, one website, and Internet video and audio -  YOU TUBE  iTUNES AUDIO PODCAST  PUBLIC DOMAIN VIDEOS & MP3s, one blog - EXOGENOUS AGENCY and one forum for discussions -  GEORGE AND CHANDLER ON FREE WILL

Quick Links to YouTube Episodes: 1-10  11-20  21-30  31-40  41-50  51-60  61-70  71-80  81-90  91-110  101-110  111-120  121-130  131-140  141-150  151-160  161-170  171-180 

Quick Links to 18 Episode Transcripts: ( by title 01 02  03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14  15  16  17  18

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(Hover over numbers on left for titles)

Titles Episodes
   
01-10 01-10
   
11-20 11-20
   
21-30 21-30
   
31-40 31-40
   
41-50 41-50
   
51-60 51-60
   
61-70 61-70
   
71-80 71-80
   
81-90 81-90
   
91-100 91-100
   

101-110

101-110

   

111-120

111-120

   

121-130

121-130

 

 

131-140

131-140
   

141-150

141-150
   

151-160

151-160
   

161-170

161-170
   

171-180

171-180
   
   
 
Site Features
 

Free Will Refutations in Major Publications

 

Free Will Refuted in the Blogs

 

Free Will Refuted on YouTube

 

Recent books for the public and academia refuting free will

 

Edited and Revised Transcripts of the First Eighteen Episodes

 

Quotes Disaffirming Free Will and Affirming Determinism by the Famous

 

Absurd Free Will Defenses by Major Institutions and Publications Who Should Know Better

 

Claiming credit for public awareness that free will is an illusion

 
 

More Featured Episodes

10. Why Change as the basic Universal Process Makes Free Will Impossible

13. Overcoming Blame, Guilt, Envy and Arrogance by Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will

16. Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will as an Evolutionary Leap in Human Consciousness

17. Revitalizing Religion through Transcending the Illusion of Free Will

26. Because Essential Elements of Every Decision are Stored in Our Unconscious, Free Will is Impossible.

38. The Messenger and I Have Evolved Human Consciousness

50. Freud Popularized the Unconscious.  Ortega is Popularizing Unconscious Will

60. Ten Ways to Refute Free Will

 
 

Landmark Coverage Refuting Free Will

 

USA Today - "Why you don't really have free will by Jerry Coyne January 1, 2012

"The debate about free will, long the purview of philosophers alone, has been given new life by scientists, especially neuroscientists studying how the brain works. And what they're finding supports the idea that free will is a complete illusion."


Time Magazine - "Think You're Operating on Free Will? Think Again" by Eben Harrell July 2, 2010

"In an intriguing review in the July 2 edition of the journal Science, published online Thursday, Ruud Custers and Henk Aarts of Utrecht University in the Netherlands lay out the mounting evidence of the power of what they term the 'unconscious will.'...John Bargh of Yale University, who 10 years ago predicted many of the findings discussed by Custers and Aarts in a paper entitled "The Unbearable Automaticity of Being," called the Science paper a "landmark — nothing like this has been in Science before."


The New York Times - "Your Move: The Maze of Free Will" by Galen Strawson July 22, 2010

"Some people think that quantum mechanics shows that determinism is false, and so holds out a hope that we can be ultimately responsible for what we do. But even if quantum mechanics had shown that determinism is false (it hasn’t), the question would remain: how can indeterminism, objective randomness, help in any way whatever to make you responsible for your actions? The answer to this question is easy. It can’t."

The Atlantic - "The Brain on Trial" by David Eagleman July/August 2011

"In modern science, it is difficult to find the gap into which to slip free will—the uncaused causer—because there seems to be no part of the machinery that does not follow in a causal relationship from the other parts."

The Telegraph - "Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'" by Tom Chivers October 12, 2010

"The philosophical definition of free will uses the phrase 'could have done otherwise'... "As a neuroscientist, you've got to be a determinist. There are physical laws, which the electrical and chemical events in the brain obey. Under identical circumstances, you couldn't have done otherwise; there's no 'I' which can say 'I want to do otherwise'."


The Guardian - "Guilty but not responsible?" by Rosiland English May 29, 2012

"The discovery that humans possess a determined will has profound implications for moral responsibility. Indeed, Harris is even critical of the idea that free will is "intuitive": he says careful introspection can cast doubt on free will. In an earlier book on morality, Harris argues 'Thoughts simply arise in the brain. What else could they do? The truth about us is even stranger than we may suppose: The illusion of free will is itself an illusion'"


Psychology Today - "Free Will Is an Illusion, So What?" by

If you think carefully about any decision you have made in the past, you will recognize that all of them were ultimately based on similar—genetic or social—inputs to which you had been exposed. And you will also discover that you had no control over these inputs, which means that you had no free will in taking the decisions you did.

Complete List

 
 


A brief history of determined vs. free will ideas

Cause and Effect – At about the 5th century BC, in his work On the Mind, the Greek Philosopher Leucippus penned the earliest known universal statement describing what we today understand as determinism, or the law of cause and effect

“Nothing happens at random, but everything for a reason and by necessity.”

Human Will – The concepts of will and free will are actually Christian in orgin. It was Saint Paul in his Letter to the Romans, which is dated at about 58 A.D., who first discovered this thing we call human will. He came to it by recognizing that he could not often do as much right as he wanted. Saint Paul wrote in Romans 7:15 that:

“I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t.” I do what I don’t want to – what I hate.” (Translation – The Living Bible)

Free Will -- Nothing new was said on the matter for the next few hundred years until St. Augustine grappled with the concepts of evil and justice. Saint Augustine wrote in his book De Libero Arbitrio, 386-395 A.D., (translated as “On Free Will”)

“Evil deeds are punished by the justice of God. They would not be punished justly if they had not been performed voluntarily.”

The problem he saw was that if human beings do not have a free will, it would be unfair for God to arbitrarily reward or punish us. St. Augustine concluded that God could not be unfair, and so he created the concept of a human free will, whereby we earn our reward or punishment by what we freely do.

Scientific concepts relating to the determined will vs. free will question

Classical Mechanics -- In 1687 Sir Isaac Newton publishes his “Laws of Motions” that mathematically describes the physical universe as acting in a mechanistic manner according to the principle of cause and effect.

Classical Mechanics is a completely deterministic theory

Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle -- In 1925 Warner Heisenberg describes mathematically that…

We can measure the position of a particle or the momentum of a particle (momentum meaning its direction and velocity), but we cannot simultaneously measure the position and momentum of a particle.

Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics -- Niels Bohr and others make the following assertions;

1) Particles do not have a simultaneous position and momentum.

2) Elementary particles behave indeterministically, and are not subject to the principle of cause and effect.

Believers in free will saw the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics as providing a possibility for free will to exist. They asserted that if elementary particles behave indeterministically, they are not subject to the principle of cause and effect that prohibits free will.

But, as noted above, it eventually became apparent that indeterminism also prohibits free will.

 

Edited Transcripts of the First Eighteen Episodes
01 How I came to see my causal will

02 Proving causal will in real time

03 Morality within a causal will perspective

04 What it all means

05 We Do Not "Experience" Free Will

06 How the Hedonic Imperative Makes Free Will Impossible

07 How the Unsolicited Participation of the Unconscious Makes Free Will Impossible

08 Asking When a Child Gains it Illuminates the Incoherence of the Concept "Free Will"

09 Overcoming our Reluctance to Overcome the Illusion of Free Will

10 Why Change as the Basic Universal Process Makes Free Will Impossible

11 The Absurdity of Varying Degrees of Free Will

12 Why the Concept of Free Will is Incoherent

13 Overcoming Blame, Guilt, Envy and Arrogance by Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will

14 Why Both Causality and Randomness Make Free Will Impossible

15 Why Frankfurt's “Second Order Desires” Do Not Allow for a Free Will

16 Overcoming the Illusion of Free Will as an Evolutionary Leap in Human Consciousness

17 Revitalizing Religion through Transcending the Illusion of Free Will

18 Why Humans Cannot Circumvent Natural Law to Gain a Free Will
 
 

YouTube Collection


 
   

Emails To Philosophers and Psychologists

 

 


Arguments against “Liberty of Indifference” and Quantum Indeterminacy

by George Ortega

June 1, 2009

 



Dear Dr...

I am writing you to suggest a refutation to the “Liberty of Indifference” argument for free will, and to describe how an exploration of particle behavior via the law of conservation of energy addresses the question of particle determinacy / indeterminacy at a more fundamental level of nature than expressed by interpretations of quantum mechanical particle measurement. I hope these two points will help you build a stronger and broader consensus among philosophers regarding the determined nature of human will.

In lecture four of his 24 lecture series “Great Philosophical Debates: Free Will and Determinism,” Dr. Shaun Nichols relates the “Liberty of Indifference” account wherein a person who hypothetically chooses between two completely identical items cannot choose according to reason, or other causal influences, and hence makes a free will choice, as an argument that, in principle, extends the faculty of free will to all of our choices.

A solid refutation to this account can be made by arguing that a choice between two items, regardless of their being identical, must be made in an ordered manner. In other words, the items must always be presented to a person as a choice between a first item and a second item, or as a choice between an item to the right and an item to the left, etc.

Verbally, one item must be presented first and the other item second. Two dimensionally, one item must be presented on the right and the other item on the left, and one item above and the other item below. Three dimensionally, as with two items in a room, the items must also be presented as to the right or left, or above or below, each other. Even when the person is instructed to make the choice conceptually at a later time, the person must always order the two items in her mind so that one is considered first and the other is considered second.

The refutation of Liberty of Indifference is accomplished by conducting an experiment wherein a person is “prompted,” or conditioned, to select either the first or the second item. Alternately, experiments can be devised, (or the findings may already exist) to demonstrate various natural propensities that would predispose first-second, right-left or higher-lower choices. For example, such experiments may reveal that left-handers would tend to choose an item presented at their left far more often than an item presented at their right. I trust the above suffices to describe this refutation, but if you would like more clarification, please let me know.

Now on to the presumably more important description of how conservation of energy can be used to demonstrate particle determinism at the quantum level.

First, it must be understood that conservation of energy is a physical law that governs all particles, including quantum particles, at their most fundamental level of interaction; a two-particle collision wherein one particle transfers energy to the other particle. Second, it should be understood that conservation of energy is a physical law that has never been violated in nature, (as opposed to conservation of mass that is routinely violated by microscopic phenomena.)

The argument is as follows; in a two-particle collision, as governed by conservation of energy, the increase in energy of the second particle is the direct effect of its interaction with, and transfer of energy from, the first particle. Conversely the decrease in energy of the first particle is the direct effect of its interaction with, and transfer of energy to, the second particle. Thus, this transfer of energy wherein one particle causes the effect of increased energy in the second particle is completely causal.

Because this particle collision example of quantum particle causality takes place at a level of nature more fundamental than that addressed by the Heisenberg and other uncertainty principles, which take place at the level of particle measurement, it more elegantly and accurately than interpretations of those uncertainty principles describes the nature of quantum particle behavior.

Hence, because this conservation of energy proof demonstrates particle causality at a level of nature more fundamental than that addressed by various interpretations of the Heisenberg and other uncertainty principles that conclude quantum particle behavior to be indeterministic, and because the macro world is clearly deterministic, a new argument for particle indeterminacy would now need to explain and describe by what matter quantum particles with an initially deterministic nature become indeterministic during measurement and then resume their deterministic nature in the macro world. Not an easy argument, to be sure.

I understand that a deterministic nature of particles is not absolutely necessary for refuting free will, given that their random nature similarly refutes the notion. However, I believe that closing the door on the quantum determinincy / indeterminacy debate would make case for human beings having determined wills as opposed to free wills far more persuasive. Thanks you for your work on this very important question of human will, and I wish you every success if you choose to advance the above arguments.

Sincerely,

George Ortega

White Plains, New York
george_ortega390@esc.edu

cc:

Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Owen Flanagan
Bruce Waller
Stephen Morse
Susan Blackmore
Melissa Ferguson
V.S. Ramachandran
Irving Kirsch
John Bargh
John Horgan
Saul Smilansky
Galen Strawson
Daniel Wegner

 

 

                                                                                                           

   

 

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