Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Coyne responds to free will video

Jerry Coyne responds to an amusing video attacking his opinions on free will:
Hunter goes off on all kinds of antievolution tangents in this video, failing to stick to the promised critique of determinism. That’s probably because his critique can be summed up very simply: “There’s no evidence for determinism — it’s just a weird and bizarre pronouncement of scientists like Cohen, and constitutes “scientism.” ...

I can rebut both of these claims very briefly.

There’s no evidence for determinism. This claim is absurd. The response is that everything on Earth, and, as far as we can tell, in the solar system, in the Milky Way galaxy, and in Universe, has uniformly obeyed the laws of physics since the Big Bang. That’s not a speculation, but an empirical conclusion ...

We can have no confidence that we can find truth if determinism be true. The rebuttal of this can be conveyed in two words: natural selection. Animals, including us, could hardly survive if we had sensory systems that didn’t give us a fairly accurate representation of reality: where the dangers lie, where the food is, what happens if we jump off a cliff.

The discussion has religious overtones, as "Cohen" seems to be a reference to Coyne being a cultural Jewish atheist.

To the extent that free will is a religious or philosophical issue, they are all entitled to their opinions. I just want to address the science.

Saying that the Milky Way galaxy obeys the laws of physics, and deducing determinism and a lack of free will is illogical.

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