Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Arguing science is against free will

A new paper details the case Against free will in the contemporary natural sciences
The claim of the freedom of the will (understood as an individual who is transcendent to Nature) in the name of XXth century scientific knowledge, against the perspective of XVIIIth-XIXth century scientific materialism, is analysed and refuted in the present paper. The hypothesis of reductionism finds no obstacle within contemporary natural sciences. ... A fatalistic or materialist view, which denies the possibility of a free will, makes much more sense in scientific terms.
The paper gives a good account of the anti-free-will position, with attention to modern science. I have attacked that position many times on this blog.

It makes a big deal about classical mechanics being deterministic, and quantum mechanics being random.

After giving all the arguments, it adds:
All the preceding argumentation would be unnecessary if we were to admit what seems to me and others seems utterly trivial: science, dealing as it does with what is objective, cannot defend the idea of freedom, which requires autonomous recognition of the subjective. The development of the argument given here is in a sense a tautology regarding the simple fact of the determination of some scientists and thinkers to deny it.

Science – past, present, and future — can never defend the hypothesis of the freedom of man. It is no longer a question of enter into a detailed discussion of quantum mechanics; neither is it a question of waiting for a new theory to provide a suitable defence. It is simply that science and freedom cannot fit into the same holdall. Libertarianism must follow a path that carries it far from science.
In other words, all of the analysis of classical and quantum mechanics was a big smokescreen. Freedom and science are such fundamental opposites that no scientific theory could ever accommodate free will.

As stupid as this sounds, I think that he is partially correct.

The paper goes into a detailed discussion of how some physical theories are deterministic and some not, but either way it reaches an anti-free-will position. So what difference does it make whether the theory is deterministic? Why do any of the properties make any difference?

Free will is rejected for metaphysical reasons that have almost nothing to do with science. Science and freedom have been defined to be incompatible.

Maybe some ppl have free will, and others are preprogrammed automatons. If you tell me that you have no sense of free will, I may choose to believe you.

Suppose it is intuitively obvious to you that you have free will, but someone tries to make a scientific argument that you don't. The details of that argument will be unimportant. The gist of the argument is that science is premised on you not having free will, and so you don't if you believe in science.

If science is defined to exclude free will, then something is wrong with science.

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