No mystery to free will, just cause and effect

The debate about free will rages on and on, it always will, with some saying it would violate causality and the laws of physics if it were anything but an illusion, others pointing out that it is “god-given” and so must exist(!) and yet others pointing out that so much of the brain’s activity takes place below the radar of consciousness that free will is nothing but a retrospective perception of choice.

However, says Roy F. Baumeister in Slate:

There is no need to insist that free will is some kind of magical violation of causality. Free will is just another kind of cause. The causal process by which a person decides whether to marry is simply different from the processes that cause balls to roll downhill, ice to melt in the hot sun, a magnet to attract nails, or a stock price to rise and fall.

Free will debate: What does free will mean and how did it evolve?.

And for those who fancy a sing-song, here’s my cover version of Rush’s song Freewill:

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2 thoughts on “No mystery to free will, just cause and effect

  1. I guess all of this always cuts to the quick of what we imagine consciousness to be. If consciousness is a product of the movement of electrons in the brain, then what is it that makes the choices we think we make…electrons moving around between atoms…

  2. The first question is, as it always should be, how do you define “free will”?

    My definition: a choice not based on any “law of physics” including laws not yet discovered.
    And/or an uncaused cause.
    And/or an act that is unpredictable in an absolute sense such as the decay of a radioactive atom.

    Have we ever seen a true free will act. Yes, for sure, billions and billions every second.
    Free will was first observed in the laboratory in the first half of last century. It was when we saw an absolutely
    unpredictable quantum decay.

    Quantuum choice is the ONLY display of free will I’ve ever seen.

    Kind of an unsatisfactory answer, right? Still it’s true. We cannot predict the choice, or even a mechanism for it, nor its cause.

    Now, what would it mean in a human context? It would mean a choice we can NOT explain. (Sure, we’ll give reasons for our “choice” but
    in reality those are better characterized as rationalities. )

    So, I really have no idea of what free will would mean at the human level. It seems to suggest that the choices we mean are absolutely unsure and only to statistically predict. Maybe.

    I really really would like to have free will, if I had it if only I knew what it is, and what it’s good for.

    Of what use is that? It would mean that there are NO rules by which it is made. Else we could discover those rules and make absolute predictions about how a person will respond to a given circumstance.

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