Archive for March 19th, 2015

March 19, 2015

Notes on free will

by Neil Rickert

In a recent post at his blog site, Jerry Coyne writes:

Based on statements of some compatibilists, I realized that one reason philosophers spend so much time trying to define forms of free will compatible with determinism is because they see bad consequences of rejecting all free will.

Obviously, Jerry is a mindless mechanical moron, meaninglessly mimicking a memorized message.

Well, actually, I don’t believe that about Jerry.  Rather, I take it that Jerry has free will, in spite of his repeated insistence to the contrary.

I’m quite puzzled about what Jerry Coyne means by “free will”.  I take it to mean only that we are not mindless morons, that we do participate in making decisions.  I doubt that Jerry thinks he is a mindless moron, yet he seems to insist that he has no free will and that his decision making is illusory.

Jerry starts his post with:

I’ve long been puzzled by the many writings of “compatibilists”: those philosophers and laypeople who accept physical determinism of our choices and behaviors, but still maintain that we have a kind of “free will.”

I consider myself a compatibilist, but I do not accept physical determinism.  The evidence seems to be against it.  If there were physical determinism, then, as I see it, we would all be mindless mechanical morons.  Yet we don’t seem to be that, so I doubt physical determinism.

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