blomm013: February 2012 Archives

Decisions or Not?

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When I first started reading the article "Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don't," I was convinced that there's no way people's decisions are pre-determined. However a few points were made that led me to at least consider the possibility of determinism. The article reminds readers that we are nothing more than a bunch of particles combined to form things like the cells and organs that make up a human being. If the particles from which we are made act randomly, as all particles of the universe are believed to do, how can we say that we are in control when that is what we are made from?

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Another part of the article that I found thought provoking was the results of an experiment that tested brain activity. In the experiment, volunteers were wired up to an electroencephalogram and told to make random movements while the physiologist marked the time on the clock. The results seemed to show that the volunteer's brain activities went from perception of motion to decision because the brain signals associated with making the decisions actually came half of a second before the subject was conscious of making them. Therefore, it's possible that in other situations people may think they're making decisions when actually they aren't aware of what they're doing until they've already begun.

I still don't know if I believe that determinism is completely responsible for people's actions and decisions. It could even be a little of both free will and random determination. Perhaps we are able to make long-term decisions, but other decisions are more random and happen to quickly for us to actually decide. Or, maybe we don't understand how the human brain works and which parts of it perform particular functions well enough to trust the results of the experiment. Whatever the case is, I am open to new information and ideas to evolve my opinion on whether we are driven by free will or determinism, or both.

Below is a link to the article, "Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don't"
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/02/science/02free.html?pagewanted=all

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