Good summary of the main views in favor of and against free will.

In my view, fundamental free will (also called libertarian free will) is just an incongruity.

A will presupposes preexisting desires and preferences (or at the very least some sort of goal or “program” constituted in any entity thought to have agency), without which one would not will anything at all. Our will simply reflects those preexisting preferences, and is guided by them.

All that neuroscience experiments can reveal is to what extent we may be conscious of the various types of decisions we make, but consciousness does not in any way imply free will—the Libet experiments are, in this respect, irrelevant.

And, as you pointed out, quantum mechanical randomness does not open some sort of magical window for free will. Whether random or predetermined, our actions are not “free”. As I’ve written elsewhere, even god itself, if it existed, wouldn’t have free will, because, again, free will doesn’t mean anything…

Compatibilist views just muddle everything by redefining free will so that it merely reflects human behavior and psychology, which is fine, but only if we don’t then begin to apply human-level terminology and concepts to underlying levels of reality. It’s useful and appropriate to talk about free will when we attempt to understand and describe human actions—but then that’s a different type of free will (it’s just the freedom to act, according to our preferences and inclinations, if we are not constrained by any overwhelming force). Human-level free will doesn’t change the fact that particles and atoms, whether they happen to be part of our brains or not, just behave and interact according to the blind and mechanistic laws of physics—they know nothing of free will, and our consciousness and volition don’t change that (unless one believes in “downward causation”).

Interested in natural selection, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, science in general, human nature, consciousness, philosophy and ethics.

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