Do we have free will? Or are we just slaves to physics? Are we just the physical laws of the universe playing itself out? Many people like Sam Harris think we’re the universe’s puppet.

I think we have free will. And I also think free will has nothing to do with determinism. The more I think about free will the more I conclude that we really have no idea what it is.. However – I think that basically our “soul” is like a piece of software running on a meat computer we call the brain. And that this software is so very different than any software we have created that we don’t understand it or the property of it that we experience as free will.

I think that in maybe 20 years when we first create software that has agency, “I think therefore I am” then we will at least know what free will actually means. Maybe the computer will explain it to us?


Also – those who don’t believe in free will have the right to choose not to believe in it if they don’t want to.


  1. deowll says:

    In order for there to be virtue, the option to be otherwise has to exist.

    Free will may be partly an illusion in that certain behaviors get weeded out albeit the weeding continues.

    The do as I say part is basically some good advice that functions to keep you from self destructing and society operating in a more humane and self perpetuating manner. Individuals and societies are free to self destruct.

    At the rate bad laws, rules and regulations are being passed and bad choices made by citizens I see the US as being rather like the old USSR in maybe 20 yrs but don’t expect to have to deal with it personally since I have every reason to think my expiration date will arrive first.

    • RE@DER says:

      We are ruled by the dead. All the laws were passed by people long ago and the situation has changed. They voted for more debt. Screw them. I stayed home.

      I could see how “democracy” might do very well in a society of saints and sages led by an Alfred or an Antoninus Pius…

      Want democracy? Follow the money to Iraq. It’s consuming all the resources it proposed to protect.

    • Tim says:

      “”personally since I have every reason to think my expiration date will arrive first.

      In other words, should I get the fake butter or the real?? No, wait… Reno’s Radiation Free Reindeer Steaks or chicken Kiev {“Is good chicken Kiev. How to cook?”… “Cook?” } ??

      “”Yummmm…. Irradiated… Throw him in the cart because I’m expecting a blow and the fridge might go on the blink.

    • Tim says:

      “”personally since I have every reason to think my expiration date will arrive first.

      You never know — You might have a plane crash in the mountains going to YouRube the bumfights at the soccer game and be good to go for months on end…

      “”…Uruguayan rugby team stranded in the snow swept Andes are forced to use desperate measures to survive after a plane crash.


  2. immovableobject says:

    Free will is an illusion, but a very compelling one. In fact it is so compelling that we believe that all our choices are deliberate rather than the mysterious percolations of our unique neural structure processing the stored residue of our life’s experiences.

    Even those of us who share my opinion about this will still treat each other as if there was such a thing as free will, because what option is there? We aren’t going to tolerate and excuse the violence and malice. We will hold each other accountable, even if deep down we understand that people do what they do because their actions seem acceptable to them at the time. Nor would we hope to find much in the way of sympathy from others for our own misjudgments and offenses.

    Yet deep down we know that each of use is actually doing the best we can with the hand we were dealt with.

    So in summary, free will doesn’t exist, but for all intents a purposes we must act as if it does.

  3. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and junior culture critic says:

    Freewill: that extended level of chaotic determinism that results in behavior that cannot be predicted, also that level of self awareness that experiences same.

    There ya go.

    Should we have a go with mutually shared illusion?

  4. reader says:

    If you can’t beat them Join them.

  5. RE@DER says:

    “Whatever unfolds, the Ucadia Financial System is a legitimate model that addresses the fundamental problems with complex financial systems and does so honoring the Golden Rule and Rule of Law.”