What do we do next?

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post “Free will: what do we do next?“, Jerry Coyne wonders:

Given that we all agree on these issues, what comes next?

Well, it is really quite simple.  Nothing much comes next.  Given that it is all an illusion, you might as well set back and watch the illusion as it unfolds.  And, if we are unable to choose otherwise, then that is obviously what we shall do.

When thinking about this yesterday, …

Well you weren’t really thinking about it.  After all, thinking is that aspect of our lives where we consider ideas and make choices about them.  But if making choices is an illusion, as your view of “free will” asserts, then that thinking must also be an illusion.

Philosophers will kill me for this, but I think it’s time that free will be considered the bailiwick of neuroscientists and psychologists rather than philosophers.

But, by your own account of free will, we cannot choose to hand this to the scientists and take it from the philosophers.  For any such choosing would be merely an illusion.  The best you can do is just hope that it happens that way — and that’s assuming that hope is not also an illusion.

But, never mind.  Jerry ends his post with a suggestion:

Abandon the term “free will” and replace it with something like “the appearance of having made a decision.”

I think Jerry is hoping that the deterministic laws of physics will happen to act in such a way that there is an appearance that people have abandoned the term “free will”.

This sort of free will denialism is such fun.  It often seems that those who deny free will cannot avoid creating howlers.  Hmm, maybe that could be considered a reductio ad absurdum of free will denialism.


2 Comments to “What do we do next?”

  1. You can’t sneer about other people’s understanding of “free will”, if you refuse yourself to give a good definition of it.


  2. A little late …

    So, Jeffrey, no one can criticize a scientific paper for bad logic, organization of ideas, etc., unless they they do a better paper?


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