We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
It's a good discussion. I have several problems with their conclusions, but by free will I have decided to put my tomatoes out instead of writing my thoughts. I guess you could claim that my genes and neurons made me make that decision.
Not to brag, but my tomatoes have been in for 3 weeks now. i freely chose to brave unseasonably cold spring nights and the four inch high seedlings are a foot to 18 inches high now .
What a crock that article is! Of course free will exists. We are all predisposed to certain traits and attitudes, intelligence or stupidity, criminality or promiscuity, drunkenness or piety, etc by our genes. But that's just the beginning...
Interesting how the author left God out of the equation. We are created in the image of God and, tho miserable sinners, God working in us can strengthen us to do the right thing when we'd rather do the wrong. Can help us be brave when we might be a coward like our dad. Can help us stay sober in a family of drug addicts. The point is, God acts in our life, then we freely choose how to react. Gratefully or like a jerk. When i was a kid we heard phrases about God like "whose service is perfect freedom". We can, of course, choose to behave monstrously despite being showered with every advantage and all kinds of love.
if people really have no free will, the logical conclusion is that one should just shoot all criminals as they are iredeemable, born of bad stock, unable to reform (jail was originally intended by Quakers to rehabilitate not brutalize criminals). This is NOT what Jesus did, tho, or what He calls us to...Always he asked people to choose Him and follow freely. And for his followers to be merciful also.
What makes us human instead of dumb brutes is how we play the cards we have been given, not resignation and limitation.
How exactly does our misapprehension of our own consciousness mean that "free will" is an illusion? Especially when all these "moral experiments" demonstrate the "free will" to be lazy reprobates?
So I don't perceive the precise moment my brain decides to act ... I become "conscious" of it after the wheels start turning ... so therefore my "free will" is me fooling myself. Well, sorry, but the machine may do a lot without my awareness, but we still get on pretty well together. And I do seem to have some "conscious" influence on it ... like where to plant those darn tomatoes.
BTW, just reading Matt Ridley's new book applying evolutionary principles to all things (recommended, by the way). He makes the same argument about free will, but then goes on to demonstrate the remarkable innovative nature of humanity which some how only happens "freely" ... he has some reconciling to do, seems to me.
Without Free Will there are no morals, no beauty, no creativity, no innovation, no Love, no altruism, no responsibility, no accountability. You are condemned to be by what your chemistry says you will be -- poor or rich, civilized or barbarian, smart or dumb, educated or ignorant. Humans have no responsibility for global warming, wars, poverty, crime, facebook, nuclear weapons, New York City, President Donald Trump, Hitler, Indian dispossession or slavery, Healthcare, and welfare. immigrants, heroin or pharmaceuticals --- why are we paying taxes?
We can imagine different possible scenarios, and these influence our subsequent actions. Additionally, we can decide on this basis to train our more automatic responses so that when the day comes that we react instantly, without thought in the moment, we make a better choice. I can decide at 13 that I will learn not to get into physical fights with people when I am furious at them, and over time make this true. I'm not sure how someone would draw any sharp distinction between these and free will.
I have long ago willingly conceded that my decisions in the moment are not fully under my control. Nor am I always able to follow through on what I thought I decided. (Very biblical, Romans 7.) To go just a bit further and say that I decide before I am aware, and that moments of decision happen without my noticing them is uncomfortable, but not radically different. Those were never the free will under discussion.
Be also aware that it only takes a tiny fraction of the will being free to have enormous consequences. If we are 99.9% just squids, that still leaves ample room for decisions.
Assistant Village Idiot
A free-will Butterfly Effect?
Seems to make sense to me.
The article is an exemplar of the logical fallacy of begging the question. All actions are the result of the firing of neurons therefore they are predetermined - just like a computer program. The proper framing of the assertion is: IF all actions are the result of the firing of neurons THEN they are predetermined.
Their premise is true because some scientists say so. If you are at all familiar with the history of science you know that well less than one percent of all scientific pronouncements have proven true. Currently it is believed that well more than half of all peer reviewed medical studies are not reproducible.