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Monday, January 21, 2013

He May Huff and He May Puff...

But P.S. cannot blow my case down.

He writes: "It is possible that science will one day provide powerful evidence that the brain and body function in a perfectly deterministic manner. That discovery would leave little opening for free will."

But this is based upon a misunderstanding of the relationship of science to the entirety of experience, and results in a flawed "free will of the gaps" understanding of the concept: free will is some mysterious "other" thing that operates in the "gaps" between causal physical processes, and if there are no gaps, there is no "room" for free will. Note: This is exactly the sort of flawed understanding of free will that leads many scientifically minded people to reject the concept, since it posits some "spooky" force jiggering around with physical processes.

The fact is that a finding that "the brain and body function in a perfectly deterministic manner" would say nothing at all about free will. The world of science is an abstraction from the totality of experience, and, as such, does not speak of that totality, but only of its own, abstract world. But a statement such as "I have free will" is a statement about the totality of experience, and thus  is not impacted at all by any conclusion from the world of science. In fact, to reach a scientific conclusion such as "the body is perfectly deterministic" assumes free will: one has concluded x only when one could have concluded y instead: one must choose a conclusion. But for it to have been possible to have chosen one course but for another to have been chosen is just what "having free will" means. Free will is assumed by scientific reasoning, and, as such, certainly can't be disproven by it.