a reply to: Profusion
Neuroscience has been slowly but surely closing the case on whether or not free will exists. The more studies they do the more it seems that most of
our decisions are made with the unconscious mind rather than the conscious one. Decisions can even be made before we are consciously aware that a
decision has been made.
More or less I am on the deterministic leaning side of things. People seem to fear that without the concept of free will we couldn't hold criminals
accountable for their actions, I think that idea is absurd, of course we can still hold them accountable. Whether you consciously make a choice or you
unconsciously make it it's still YOUR choice, the action was still yours and the decision making processes that went into it still happened in your
brain so of course you can still be held accountable.
People act as if we put people in prison based solely on the fact that they consciously (in the "front" of their brain) intended to do something wrong
as opposed to trying to remove them from the general population to protect everyone else and/or to attempt to rehabilitate them. If you have bad
intentions, even if not consciously aware of them at the moment, they are still yours, they are still going on in your brain. So if we let go of free
will we don't lose the justice system, sure you might lose that smug sense of superiority that allows you to sit as righteous judge and jury when you
hear about someone committing a crime but is that really a part of human nature we have to shield and protect?
The battle, at this point, is whether there is any glimpse of free will at all. Because it seems intuitive and logically sound that our actions are
the result of a myriad of factors, including thoughts, which are not under our conscious control. The laws of physics dictate that this must be so,
cause and effect, there can't be an effect that wasn't caused and so any action taken must be the sum of the parts that led to it. That isn't to say
we couldn't get different effects from the same causes, merely that the math must add up.
Maybe there is a way for the conscious mind to have an effect on the subconscious and vice versa but the two aren't really separate things, they're
the same thing in the way that my computer screen is part of my laptop and displays only the things I need to be aware of, the important bits, and in
the meantime in the background all manner of "subconscious" processes are responsible for everything else. Whether or not the conscious and
subconscious connection is a two way street, a one way street, or a round-a-bout is still somewhat under investigation but I don't see any room for
free will in the typical way it's proposed.
Of course the nonexistence of free will doesn't automatically prove Determinism but determinism seems most consistent with the world we live in and
even, in many ways, our own experience of being conscious beings. Thoughts and desires pop into our minds unbidden, inspiration strikes or depression
rears its head without being summoned, largely our minds function without or in spite of our attempts to guide them consciously and even when it seems
we succeed at guiding our thoughts and actions it's not as if the subconscious isn't there.
Like I said a lot of the issue is that we can't get around this division between subconscious and conscious, they're part of the same integrated
system, and so there's nothing scary or spooky about the idea that free will doesn't exist (in the sense of free will as CONSCIOUSNESS driving
behavior so that our decisions are not entirely tethered to purely natural processes and we can therefore make choices that are un-caused
edit on 2-9-2015 by Titen-Sxull because: (no reason given)