Tuesday, March 20, 2012
I Can't Help Myself
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a "special issue" on "free will."
Jerry Coyne has his usual spiel:
I construe free will the way I think most people do: At the moment when you have to decide among alternatives, you have free will if you could have chosen otherwise. To put it more technically, if you could rerun the tape of your life up to the moment you make a choice, with every aspect of the universe configured identically, free will means that your choice could have been different.He goes on to explain that "nihilism is not an option" ... though, of course, he denies we have any options. Nor should the fact that there is no such thing as moral responsibility "seriously change the way we punish or reward people" ... as if we could.
Although he tells us that "science strongly suggests that free will of the sort I defined doesn't exist," what Coyne never attempts is an explanation of how science works if there is no way to choose between good evidence and bad; between good arguments and bad; between logic and illogic.
Update: Coyne makes it even more explicit:
In the sense that any of these thinkers agree that our will is "free," they mean that some of our decisions appear to be made after conscious processes of deliberation—after thinking about them. Of course, that's a result of evolution, and many animals probably do the same thing. Perhaps these folks will agree that humans aren't unique in having this form of "free will," for all beasts are evolved to absorb and process input before producing a behavioral output. But where is the "freedom" in all this? What, exactly, are we free to do? We're not free to think—that's a result of evolution—and we're not free in how our thought processes operate, or in what "decision" they produce.But then, how did he come to the decision that "science" tells us "that free will of the sort I defined doesn't exist"?
What IS that, if not free will?????
I mean, how can you -- how does he -- oh never mind.
-- pew sitter, who consciously deliberated before writing this comment
No, no, that was just an illusion like the rest of what we call consciousness.
What I am trying to figure out is exactly who our illusion of consciousness is fooling...
My guess, at the moment, is Jerry Coyne.