Interesting analysis. I’ve never understood why these experiments are supposed to have any relevance to the notion of free will. All they show is that sometimes we may make choices unconsciously. But here I diverge diametrically: contrary to the view presented, mine is that, regardless of how we make decisions, there’s no free will. Making them consciously doesn’t change the fact that everything is predetermined. It seems evident to me that the notion of free will can totally be discarded by thinking alone — no need at all for any experimental corroboration. Free will is intrinsically incoherent.

But perhaps a different kind of free feel is being considered:

That means we still have free will. We still make unfettered choices based on our experiences, culture, predispositions, and other influences we don’t understand.

At the level suitable for describing human psychology, that’s surely an appropriate way of discussing free will. However, at the most fundamental level of reality, that of the laws governing the behavior of subatomic particles, of which we’re composed, free will doesn’t make sense. I’m discussing free will at this level.

Some propose that quantum-mechanics randomness may open a window for free will. But that doesn’t make any sense, as then our will would just act randomly — it would still not be “free”. As @John Brodix Merryman Jr. wrote in his comment, “what is it supposed to be free of?”. That is a key question.

Others argue that rejecting free will would make us apathetic: why bother with anything if our fate is already determined, if one has no control over it? But not much, if anything, would change in our day-to-day life from a denial of free will. Our human nature would see to that. We’d still have our desires and motivations, not to mention our bodily needs. Our moral philosophy might well change, but most probably for the better: we might still need to lock up criminals for safety and deterrence, but hopefully any inclination towards cruelty, as well as any notions of revenge and deserved punishment, would tend to diminish, since we’d have to recognize that it is illogical, and in fact immoral.

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

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