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dmckeever's picture

Free Will?

I am growing equally worried that free will doesn't truly exist. My entire life, I have been told that I make my own choices and I am responsible for how I  live my life, but just as the above post said, if these patterns intrinsic to our bodies really do exist, then it seems we have much less control over the inputs and ouputs of life  than we thought. The post “Predicting Intentions” got me thinking: scientists have identified patterns of thinking and decision-making for their subjects—are these specific to that person? Are they a result of the structure of the brain and other parts of the nervous system? The implication is that whatever is the source of these patterns somewhat (if not completely) dictates our thinking, which is where I thought our free will began, and our decision-making, which is where I was under the impression our free will manifested itself. If this is not the case, the new have no free will? If how we think is dictated by the physical structure of our brain, then we never truly have an original, personal thought? So then, can anyone be  responsible for their thoughts and actions? Can fanatics that hold racist and  prejudicial beliefs, and then act on them, be held accountable? This has dangerous implications. We  operate on the impression that we are in control of ourselves and our environment; what if these scientists could predict, say, a presidential candidate’s decision about war just by looking  at his/her MRI? Would we begin voting based on brain patterns and not political parties and views? And, that choice I made yesterday, if it wasn’t really a voluntary choice, what does that mean? Then, who are we really? I think that this says something about the human race: we are not as superior as we like to believe; we are just animals acting on  instinct and being driven by our inner workings, much like animals of the wild, with whom we do not associate ourselves. We are more like them then we’d  like to believe.


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