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Posted by S.H. Le on October 11, 2000 19:17:35 UTC

Heya Greg

"By your perception, the Law of Gravity denies us Free-Will because we cannot choose to float freely upon the ether." Greg

Physical laws in and of themselves do not deny us free will, but i would attribute that to the fact that our internal states aren`t freely chosen. I insist that our motivations are precursors for our decisions, that is, our motivations turn possibility into actuality. These desires (instinctual or not) have a basis in varying degrees from nature and/or nurture. These are hugely influential external factors, and we have little to no control over either of them.

My biggest problem with the idea of free will, is it`s inherent theistic implications - the Mind/Body problem. Free will came about as an idea that God gave each of us a soul, which is distinct from our physical components (which is influenced by only other physical aspects in the external world). The soul however, was not subject to these causual laws, and therefore, free will resulted in spontaneous first causes in every human action. Thus the mind was seen as immaterial (soul) and was unaffected by the physical world, and the brain was the mechanical part. Descarte coined this distinction Cartesian Dualism, and believed mind/body to be seperate entities connected at the Pinneal gland.

Now granted, free will and theism can exist independently (as you`ve said just now), so if this is the case, then one must show how and for what function free will has evolved in nature, and why it is exclusive only to human beings. What factors create free will in nature? Self awareness alone? I`ve heard (but don`t quote me on this) that dolphins have been shown to demonstrate some level of self awareness.

I believe the brain is entirely mechanical just like any other organ, and just like any other animal. I therefore, have a hard time believing that if animals are subject to determism, then why aren`t humans?

"It is really no more complex then choosing between chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry ice cream." - Greg

If free will is simply the ability to choose among various options, then many animals exhibit free will. Mice can forage for different kinds of seeds. Ecological studies have shown that they actively make decisions on which seed to gather based on the taste (linked to nutritional value), how long it takes to find the seed, and the time needed to consume the seed. Accounting for all these factors, roughly, animals will tend to either choose a certain seed over another, or if there`s no benefit to consuming one seed over another, will choose seeds indescriminately. I would attribute these `decisions` that animals make, to free will.

I see little difference in humans choosing one flavor of ice cream over another, over what animals do in the wild.

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