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#1 octopuppy

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 10:37 PM

This is a spin-off from rookie1ja's Lazy-Bones Paradox (if there is a destiny, why bother going to the doctor's when ill?). A belief in destiny may lead to bad decision making, but that's not to say the belief itself is incorrect.

I'd like to get some thoughts on the Destiny vs Free Will subject, but first let's get a few things out of the way:

The question of destiny doesn't depend on some quasi-religious notion of a "master plan". Destiny may simply exist without anyone knowing what the "plan" is, perhaps just as a consequence of physics. If the current state of the universe and the laws of physics acting upon it dictate all that happens, then this determines the future regardless of whether we can predict it. In my opinion destiny simply requires there to be just one possible future.

Clarification of "possible": "Possible" is often taken to mean "something we do not know to be untrue (or impossible)". If I bought a ticket for last night's lottery but haven't checked the results yet, and you ask me "Did you win the lottery?", I might answer "It's possible, I don't know yet". In reality, the outcome is already determined, so my winning the lottery is only possible if it actually happened. I either won or I didn't, I just don't know which it is, so I used the word "possible" to indicate a lack of knowledge in this case. But that's not what I mean when I say "one possible future". I mean only one future which may happen (regardless of knowledge).

Picture a hypothetical observer standing outside of time. Would they see time as a line, as a single sequence of events from the distant past to the distant future? If so, however unpredictable the future may be, destiny is a reality. In this case, the notion of "free will" may be a useful one, but it is an illusion (caused by our inability to keep track of the underlying mechanics, the cause and effect which dictates our every thought). You might say that those who believe in destiny and make bad decisions because of it were destined to do so, and those who believe in free will and make good decisions because of it were equally destined to do so.

You might argue that Free Will can exist alongside Destiny. Consider this example:
You've been kidnapped and locked in a room with a red door and a green one. You are told "You have the freedom to leave the room by whichever door you choose, and accept the consequences". So you choose (say) the green door, which leads to a reward and an exit. Later you find out that the red door was a fake door with just a wall behind it. The maker of this room (having studied the way you think in infinite detail) knew that you were certain to choose the green door and therefore didn't bother building a second exit. It's true that you had "the freedom to leave the room by whichever door you choose", since you would only ever have chosen the green door, regardless of how "free" you thought your choice was. Freedom doesn't necessarily mean that there is more than one possible outcome.

For the purposes of this debate, however, I would like to define "Free Will" as the ability to make more than one possible choice. Which makes it utterly incompatible with Destiny.

So it's a fight to the death. And I propose that the deciding factor is whether or not we have more than one possible future.

Let battle commence!
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#2 TwoaDay

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Posted 24 February 2008 - 11:14 PM

heres what i think.

Im not very religious but i think what will happen will happen. your'e choices are not made for you but you will always choose a certain choice. refering to the door example, you were not forced to choose the green door but that was what you were going to pick no matter how hard you thought about it. If destiny is a definite reality then there is no way to change it. im not saying i belive or do not belive in destiny for sure but if it does exisist whatever you do is "known" already and trying to change that is useless and does not change anything.

Now that im thinking about it, what if there is no destiny. that means what you do is not predetermined. this would also lead me to belive that amything uneeded or catastrofically useless and pointless could ocurr at any time. The lack of any form of destiny could also mean the lack of any higher entity

I agree that there could be a balance. i do not think that there is absolutly no destiny but i do not feel that we are forced to do everything we do. i think destiny keeps balance and order. I also belive that sometimes human nature is explained as destiny.

after writing this and thinking about it, i have concluded that there is a balance of destiny and free will

im interested to see what other people will write.
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#3 Duh Puck

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 01:46 AM

In my opinion destiny simply requires there to be just one possible future.
...
For the purposes of this debate, however, I would like to define "Free Will" as the ability to make more than one possible choice. Which makes it utterly incompatible with Destiny.

So it's a fight to the death. And I propose that the deciding factor is whether or not we have more than one possible future.

It's a thought-provoking question indeed. However, I disagree with the premise of your proposal, particularly your definition of destiny. Destiny connotes determination of events. This is closely tied to causality, the relationship between events and their outcomes. That there is guaranteed to be only one outcome does not guarantee that only one is possible.

Consider rolling a die ten times. There are 610 possible outcomes. You know in advance that you will only end up with one of those results, but that does not make any one outcome any less possible than another.

Let's say, however, that you could travel in time one minute and observe the result, then, with that knowledge, return to the present. Would it be fair to say that now there is only one possible outcome? Does this knowledge change the available possibilities? No, because there's no causal connection between your knowledge and the result of the die throw. All the actual factors in the result (the manner of the throw, the physical laws governing the bounce and roll on the surface of the table, etc.) have not changed, so regardless of your knowledge, all the possible outcomes are just as possible.

This paradox is at the heart of much of the philosophical and speculative debate around such topics as time travel, parallel universes, and predetestination, so there are plenty of great minds that have pondered these enigmas. That said, I am of the opinion that "free will" is perfectly compatible with "one possible future," and that this does not in any way imply destiny, or a predetermination of the outcome.
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#4 Ploper

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 01:55 AM

I didn't really read most of what people said, though I probably should

but I believe in free will
because for destiny to exist, everything must be predetermined.
I don't think that's logical
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#5 TwoaDay

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 03:48 AM

i do not agree that for destiny to exist everything must be predetermined. i know this is confusing(my fault) but i think that certain events will not happen and certain events will but on a daily basis, desicions like "what should i wear today" and "what should i have for breakfast" are not predetermined and generally unimportant.
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#6 octopuppy

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 06:26 PM

Now that im thinking about it, what if there is no destiny. that means what you do is not predetermined. this would also lead me to belive that amything uneeded or catastrofically useless and pointless could ocurr at any time.

It does, doesn't it? Or is that just my life?

The lack of any form of destiny could also mean the lack of any higher entity

Could do. But then if there is a destiny there's nothing left for the higher entity to do. Tee hee. Well, you did say you weren't very religious! ;)

That there is guaranteed to be only one outcome does not guarantee that only one is possible.

Interesting. Can something be possible if it doesn't happen?

Consider rolling a die ten times. There are 610 possible outcomes. You know in advance that you will only end up with one of those results, but that does not make any one outcome any less possible than another.

Do the multiple "possible" outcomes not just relate to a lack of knowledge? We don't know what the one outcome will be, but perhaps it is predetermined nevertheless. The roll of a die gives an unpredictable result, but is it a truly random result? Does such a thing even exist? (for clarity, I'm not trying to imply some religious-style "plan" here, just talking about physics)

Let's say, however, that you could travel in time one minute and observe the result, then, with that knowledge, return to the present. Would it be fair to say that now there is only one possible outcome? Does this knowledge change the available possibilities? No, because there's no causal connection between your knowledge and the result of the die throw. All the actual factors in the result (the manner of the throw, the physical laws governing the bounce and roll on the surface of the table, etc.) have not changed, so regardless of your knowledge, all the possible outcomes are just as possible.

Hang on. You know what the outcome will be, but you say other outcomes are still possible, even though you know that they will not happen? Not sure if I can buy that!

A lot of this comes down to that awkward little word "possible", doesn't it? I didn't define what it means, only what it doesn't mean in this case. The dictionary doesn't help much either, as it defines "possible" using various synonyms. I'd say that in common use, "possible" means "not known to be false". Take knowledge out of the equation (or assume complete knowledge of all things, including the future), and "possible" now means "not false", or just plain old "true". This is more than just word play. I think in a general sense, possibility is equivalent to reality. That which is (or will be) is possible. That which is not (or will not be) is not possible. Only my opinion of course! :D

Some interesting points raised, keep 'em coming!
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#7 Ploper

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Posted 25 February 2008 - 09:59 PM

Hang on. You know what the outcome will be, but you say other outcomes are still possible, even though you know that they will not happen? Not sure if I can buy that!

I buy it perfectly
because you would have to exactly duplicate your action from the future where you saw the dice roll
if you are rolling the dice, then this would be pretty much impossible, a small twitch that differs from what you saw in the future could change the results, and If you are viewing, with the person rolling the dice sitting across from you, your actions might influence their actions just a bit. which is enough
just like Marty McFly knew that Chuck Berry wrote Johnny B Goode,
yet by playing it at the Party Under the Sea dance, Chuck Berry heard it over the phone, so Marty actually wrote it
things set in stone were changed
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#8 octopuppy

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 08:27 AM

I buy it perfectly
because you would have to exactly duplicate your action from the future where you saw the dice roll
if you are rolling the dice, then this would be pretty much impossible, a small twitch that differs from what you saw in the future could change the results, and If you are viewing, with the person rolling the dice sitting across from you, your actions might influence their actions just a bit. which is enough

That leaves two possibilities:

1) Despite all this, the dice roll must come out exactly the same because there is only one future. May not be as unlikely as it seems in this scenario because by skipping forward one minute into the future and then returning to the present you have not done anything to change the course of history, just taken a sneaky peek at the result. The result you saw in the future was presumably rolled by you having returned to the present after seeing that result. There could be one consistent series of events here. We could come up with a paradoxical series of events by rolling the die then going back into the past to witness yourself doing that, when you hadn't been there the first time. That would probably change the outcome. But I'd rather not get too hung up on time travel paradoxes - it's a bit off topic, and paradoxes are paradoxes after all.

2) The dice roll turns out differently, as you suggest. The future in which the first result happened was real (you were there!), and the future in which the second result happened is certainly real, since that seems to be the one we're going forward with. But that still doesn't create a distinction between what is possible (many results) and what is real (many futures).

I think Duh Puck was suggesting the first of these scenarios, but we needn't necessarily dismiss the second.
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#9 octopuppy

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 04:37 PM

I'd like to correct something I said about Free Will earlier - rather than the ability to make more than one possible choice, I think it is perhaps the ability to make a choice which was not predetermined. A small but significant distinction.

Using my just-moved goalposts, I'll put my own cards on the table (since everyone else seems to have lost interest but I still find it fascinating). Personally I don't believe in either Free Will or Destiny. I think all the evidence suggests we have many futures, all of which are predetermined. So there.

Talk to me, somebody! I'm bored! :blink:
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#10 BoscoRanger

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Posted 28 February 2008 - 05:51 PM

I think all the evidence suggests we have many futures, all of which are predetermined. So there.


Continue on with this thought.Who or what predetermined the future.

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