Kevin Aylward B.Sc.
Freewill is that which we would all like to true, that is the belief that there is an "I", and that such an "I" has control over ones future actions. It is often confused with consciousness.
It is certainly true that freewill is an aspect of our consciousness, but it is by no means necessary that an inability to have freewill, requires that there be no consciousness. It is perfectly consistent to be aware of the fact that one has no ultimate control over ones actions. Secondly, an inability to predict our next actions also does not imply that freewill exists.
In this authors opinion, the debate over absolute freewill is finished. We have no absolute freewill. Freewill is simply an illusion. Its that simple. Everything we think do and say is the result of prior gene or meme programming, or random process of which we have no control over. This argument is as follows:
1 Consciousness has been held to be the sole result of this physical brain. Consciousness is not a physical entity, so it can not influence any physical entity. It is simply an observer.
2 Classical laws of physics state that if we know the exact position and momentum of all entities at one instant, then all other positions and momentums are determined.
3 Quantum Mechanics state that there is a truly random component to physical process. That is, in principle, there are events that are not controllable, that is, not strictly determined by a prior condition.
4 From a classical perspective then, our brain simply takes in external inputs and process them with its gene hardware, and prior meme, environmentally programmed software, and outputs a deterministic output. This process precludes any ability of an "I" taking independent control.
5 From a quantum perspective, an output may depart form its expected deterministic classical value, but since this is random, an "I" can not control it, i.e. determine this output. If an "I" could control it, then it couldn't be a random output., hence it would be non quantum, and the classical argument would then reapply.
The only way to save freewill, is by magic. That is, to arbitrarily introduce a soul that is the "I" that is truly us. However, no physical action that we take requires such an assumption. Our Darwinian machine brain, allows for us to account for producing an output that is not a strictly determined from our inputs by the simple assumption that there is a quantum random component to our meme and gene processing algorithm. Occam's Razor, tells us that a soul is just an extra unneeded assumption, so we would be better to just reject it.
Insolubility of the Hard Problem
The preceding argument tells us that, despite the fact that we do indeed actually feel pleasure and pain, and imagine that an "I" "exists" that takes control over our actions, there is simply no true "I". That is, something separate from our programming and random processes. We simple blindly follow and act on all our prior inputs. This is summed up by an example:
We slip and start falling over backwards, we are unable to do anything about it whilst we are falling, yet we are still very much aware of our falling.
(work in progress and subject to error)
These papers may be freely copied only for non commercial use,
provided full credit is given to the author.
© Kevin Aylward 2005 - all rights reserved