Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

CategoryFree will

Decision making and choosing between two paths with different outcomes. Generative AI

Can Free Will and Predestination Both Be True?

Seemingly contradictory arguments can sometimes be resolved from a higher level perspective. Quantum mechanics vs. classical physics provides an illustration
The conflict between free will and predestination disappears when considering the perspective of the almighty “I Am” vs. our human perspective. Read More ›
man standing in front of various paths, needing to make a decision to move forward in life. Generative Ai.

Philosopher: Why Brain Science Does Not Eliminate Free Will

Tim Bayne looks at what we can logically deduce from the famous Libet experiments
The logical argument for free will coincides with recent neuroscience research findings. Read More ›
A choice of two ways. Woman at a crossroads.

Free Will: Never Let Mere Atoms Near a Keyboard

No free will — and therefore no responsibility — may sound more “cool” than free will but we had better be careful about what we admire
If there is no free will, you can’t say “I didn’t do it” if sociologically, you have a higher probability of doing it than someone else might. Read More ›
man standing in front of various paths, needing to make a decision to move forward in life. Generative Ai.

At Scientific American, free will seems very much alive

The concept is incompatible with their “mind is just the brain” thesis but they can’t let go of it anyway
The debate will surely continue but it’s remarkable that it’s even HELD at Scientific American. Wasn’t materialism supposed to have disproved free will by now? Read More ›
fork in the road in forest at storm weather at night, concept of insecurity of future

My Reply to Free Will Deniers: Show Me

It is helpful to consider the question in this way—not “do we have free will?,” but rather “what does it mean to believe we don’t have free will?”
No humans live as if we doubt free will. Free will denial is just a way for materialists to advertise themselves, like a political yard sign. Read More ›
Choosing the High Road or Low Road

How Neuroscience Disproved Free Will and Then Proved It Again

In this excerpt from Minding the Brain (2023), neuroscientist Cristi L. S. Cooper discusses the discovery of “free won’t” — the decision NOT to do something
Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet was skeptical of claims that he had disproved free will, so he continued to experiment and found that he hadn’t after all. Read More ›
AI chatbot robot assistant sitting at desk using computer as artificial intelligence. Business concept

Once a Supporter, Science Writer Airs Doubts About Free Will

ChatGPT has set John Horgan thinking about whether he is just "ChatGPT-Me" himself
Horgan’s underlying doubts about the reality of his free will and his mind, really, seem rooted in his passionate belief in Darwinian evolution. Read More ›
Independent Thinking

The Free Will Debate Really Heated Up This Year

Many commentators are weighing in; surprisingly, perhaps, well-known materialists are disputing the claim that there is no free will
Given that both Pinker and Horgan are Darwinian materialists, their coldness toward the idea that there is no free will is worth keeping an eye on. Read More ›
Divergence of directions. A wide path in the park is divided into two alleys leading in different directions in the rays of sunset.

Why Free Will Denial is Self-Refuting

If free will deniers are right, their denial of free will is just a biological ink stain.
Things that are wholly determined by the laws of physics and chemistry aren’t truth claims. They’re just spilled ink. Read More ›
a hand drops a ballot into a transparent plastic ballot box on election day at a polling station. the will of the voters. free elections. Generative AI

Can Evolution Create Free Will? A Neurologist Says Yes

Could the impersonal natural force of evolution shape hierarchies in the human cerebral cortex so that we have the free will that it does not itself have?
It appears that materialists have not been able to simply disprove free will, so Mitchell seems to be trying to shape an evolution theory to fit it. Read More ›
Synaps with neurons in the background, neurotransmitters in synaptic junction, information transmission in the brain

Neuroscience Has Never Provided Much Evidence for Materialism

In a chapter of the new book, Minding the Brain, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor points out that many great neuroscientists were non-materialists
Great neuroscientists weren’t dualists in spite of the evidence but because of it. Their research really did not support a materialist view of the mind. Read More ›
Hands of a man tearing a piece of paper with inscription free will

Free Will: What Are the Real Reasons to Believe in It?

Some say that free will might be a useful delusion but neuroscience provides sound reasons to believe that it is real.

University of Missouri psychology professor Kennon Sheldon’s message is neatly summed up in an opening statement: “Regardless of whether humans do or don’t have free will, psychological research shows it’s beneficial to act as if you do”. The author of Freely Determined: What the New Psychology of the Self Teaches Us About How to Live (Basic Books, 2022) responds to philosophers who say that we do not have free will: All my life, I’ve struggled with the question of whether humans have ‘free will’. It catalysed my decision to become a psychologist and continues to inspire my research to this day, especially as it relates to the kinds of goals people set for themselves, and the effects of goal-striving on Read More ›

Lonely man in red jacket standing by the lake in winter, with transparent woman figure standing next to him

Escape from Spiderhead and the Question of Love

Is love more than a chemical reaction and are humans more than machines made of meat?

Brave New World, a speculative work by British writer Aldous Huxley, explores a society where people are conditioned via drugs and genetic engineering to live stable, highly pleasurable, but totally meaningless lives. One pop of a pill, and negative feelings like sadness, anger, or envy vanish. In the brave new world, “everyone belongs to everyone else,” and pleasure supplants purpose. A Story for Our Age That book was written in 1932. Fast forward to the twenty-first century and another fictional work, albeit shorter, goes arguably even deeper than Huxley’s magnum opus. The short story Escape from Spiderhead by George Saunders is about a group of inmates being tested by mood-altering drugs in a facility nicknamed “Spiderhead” for its nebulous layout. Read More ›

Sculpture portrait of Aristotle

Sean Carroll: “How Could an Immaterial Mind Affect the Body?”

The well known physicist thinks free will is nonsense. But has he investigated the classical understanding of causation?

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at Johns Hopkins University who takes an atheist and materialist philosophical perspective on nature and on science. I have disagreed with him often — I’m in no position to judge his scientific acumen, but his philosophical acumen leaves a lot to be desired. An example of this is a question he asks in a recent documentary about free will (which I haven’t watched yet). In the trailer for the movie, Carroll asks, How in the world does the immaterial mind affect the physical body? Carroll’s denial of libertarian free will is based on this question, and of course, he believes that the immaterial mind does not exist and, if it did exist, could not Read More ›

Guilty dog and a destroyed teddy bear at home. Staffordshire terrier lies among a torn fluffy toy, funny guilty look

Do Animals, as Well as Humans, Have Free Will?

One can make a case for animal free will in the strict sense that no life form is bound by complete determinism because it doesn't exist

In 2009, University of Würzburg biology professor Martin Heisenberg wrote a defense of animal free will in Nature, basing his argument on the behavior of flies: For example, my lab has demonstrated that fruit flies, in situations they have never encountered, can modify their expectations about the consequences of their actions. They can solve problems that no individual fly in the evolutionary history of the species has solved before. Our experiments show that they actively initiate behaviour4. Like humans who can paint with their toes, we have found that flies can be made to use several different motor outputs to escape a life-threatening danger or to visually stabilize their orientation in space. Heisenberg, M. Is free will an illusion?. Nature Read More ›