Free Will Doesn’t Exist
John Dietrich
2029

Totally agree. But it’s probably worthwhile dispensing with the compatiblist argument: an action is free if it wasn’t coerced or the result of a physiological condition. The problem is that this simply deflects from the meaning of free. It’s weird but most compatibilists are determinists but still find value in hanging on to a concept whose only value is providing comfort. And given today’s psychological hacking via social media, the concept of “coerced” has become less meaningful.

Some interesting comments I’ve had made to me: “if I have no free will, why don’t I just lie on the couch, watch tv and eat chocolate all day.” The answer is that if you think you have free will, go ahead and give it a try.

“What about crime? How can someone be held responsible for eg murder if they have no free choice?” The answer is that even if we do not have free will we are nevertheless susceptible to being taught. Just take the language of punishment and reframe as learning. Then the discussion focuses in the right stuff: teaching effectively rather than punishing.

But the most interesting outcome of rejecting free will was not discussed. I think this consequence is why most still cling to the notion. Quite simply, if there is no free will, there is no executive “I” either. The “self” is as illusionary as free will. At the end of the day the feeling of self is no more than the firing of neutrons.