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Joshua  Beers

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If I had 100% of your genes and 100% of your environmental experience I would be you.

I think that this statement is completely accurate. Do you agree?
Yes? No? Why? Why Not?

The repercussions seem obvious. It's the classic question: Do we really have free will?

In my personal opinion, however alluring "free will" is as a subject of belief, it doesn't exist in any form. Every decision we make, from important to mundane, can be either attributed to genes or environment. What other factor is there? A soul? Did we get to choose that? From my standpoint, I don't see how this CANNOT rule out arguments free will.

As a side note, compatibilists may argue that "choice" IS making decisions based on the given "will" but I would ask them to elaborate. Is that really freedom at all? "Of course we have free will, we have no choice in the matter."


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  • May 7 2011: Are you implying an alternate world?
    Because if it is in this world, and it still behaves normally, then you cannot occupy the same space I do, so you will see things differently and your world map would definitely differ from mine.

    So, unless I don't exist, you cannot be me. And if I don't exist, you still cannot be me, because you are still you.
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      May 8 2011: Robertson, while that does make sense, this was proposed as a hypothetical. The point I was trying to make (and see if it has any holes in it) was that an individual is simply an amalgamation of complicated genes and environmental influence, nothing more.
      • May 8 2011: Well, yes.It does make sense then. If you had 100 percent of my DNA and environmental experience, you should be me.
        I was wondering though if mind altering substances could change that. Say, if you get drunk, do your thoughts become random? If they do then that could cause a deviation from your 'path' right?
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          May 8 2011: Ahhh interesting thought! (With many repercussions) I also have had similar thoughts about blacking out while drunk, and how memory influences identity. In my opinion, while it definitely makes things a bit more complicated, "determinism" still stands. Let's take being drunk. The thoughts you are having while intoxicated become increasingly bizarre and disconnected from your usual outward personality with each passing drink. But they are not a completely new identity. It's not like you are getting those thoughts from a new source. I am certainly no neurologist, but I imagine your brain is undergoing changes while drunk (this is certainly true of hardcore narcotics I would think). And so this is just another layer of intricacy to add to the the genes/environment amalgam.
      • May 9 2011: I was just looking at George Spilkov's argument with the five doors. You wouldn't necessarily place any thought behind it. If I had five identical doors in front of me and there were no way of reasoning my way out of this problem, I would probably close my eyes and choose a door at random.
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          May 9 2011: Right, but whatever made "you" decide to close your eyes and randomly choose would be something influenced from genes/environment. I think those types of situations seem so difficult to think they are determined because their influencing factors would be so deep and often times (like in this example) deemed unimportant by us. But what is the alternative? That you somehow turned off you brain and had some unbiased force control your hands as you covered your eyes with one and pointed with the other?
      • May 10 2011: No, because that external 'unbiased force' is probably determined. But I think closing your eyes and depriving yourself of some external stimuli should change some things.

        I was also thinking that if we pursue your argument to it's extreme, a corollary should be that our date, time, and second of death are determined. Now if only there was a way to calculate that.
        • May 10 2011: A similar argument that interests me would be: Is life an illusion? Is there any real difference between animate and inanimate matter? If the Universe is simply a mechanism, along with everything in it, we are no different from the helium gases of stars and the water we drink.

          Personally I don't agree, but interesting question nevertheless.
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          May 10 2011: @ Robertson, must admit, I didn't quite get your first point there...it would add to the "perceived randomness" of the choice?...As for your second point, that is a very intriguing thought indeed. In this frame of thinking, it is amazing to think how your life is moving together into one culminating moment: it's end. Quite incredible to think about.

          @Austin, such questions seem to rely on a good deal of personal, respective introspection (I don't think this means that we can't move closer to what we deem "truth," it just means it is a highly difficult process.) Personally, the more I think, the more it has become increasingly obvious to me that the lives we all lead are very deep, complex, interwoven illusions. I don't know anything about animate/inanimate matter, but it seems to me that, contrary to what we are innately "programmed" to think, we are not esoteric beings, we are not detached from nature with respective purposes that transcend the boundaries of the material world. In actuality, we are every bit a part of the "natural" world as "the water we drink."

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