Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Illusion of free will

I am going to give a very simple inductive argument and claim that 'free will' is an illusion.

The crux of the argument is as follows. Any decision a person takes is a function of the body of knowledge and experience the person posesses (and some random factors). The body of knowledge and the experiences that a person pocesses is the sum total of past decisions the person has already taken. Thus using inductive methods, we can show that a person does not have direct control of any decision he/she takes and thus 'free-will' is really an illusion.

A person's actions can be viewed as a sum total of several decisions he/she takes in his life. (This is somewhat analogous to how in computation theory, one can reframe anygiven problem as a 'yes'/'no' problem).

So what I need to show is that the person 'does not have control' over any of his decisions.

Let P(i) : Man does not have direct control over his ith decision.

Base Case: P(0) is true.
'Proof': First of all, what is P(0), the first decsion that man takes. It is the decsion to manifest as himself/herself ( as such and such a person). Although I can not prove this, I think most of us will agree that the person does not have control over this step.

By the inductive hypothesis, let us assume P(i) is true for 0But his current decision is a function of his previous decisions and random factors.
Thus P(m) which is P(i+1) is true.

Note : I know I have not presented this as well as it could have been, but you get the idea.

Wednesday Jun 20, 6.45 PM

Please refer Free will for a comprehensive account on this topic. Thanks to balaji for indirectly pointing out this. As one can see, there has been a lot of work on this; let me assimilate whatever that has been already done and get back later.

hmm, I see you are a hard determinist. Knowing how you take decisions, I'm not surprised though!

anyway with my limited reading, I seem to agree more with the compatibilists.
Just realised the large body of work in philosophy, science, religion on the topic of 'free will'. Yeah, I should have done a wiki search on free will, before posting this.

I am not really sure if I am a determinist - true, I dont believe in free will, but I dont think there is only one possible future at any given moment. (Note that I have mentioned about 'random factors' affecting the decision.).

I need to think more about this. Let me read the wiki articles fully and try to incorporate the collective knowledge.

btw, What does the modus-operandi of my decision-making have to do with determinism?
Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.
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