Can We Just Stop Talking About Free Will

The problem with free will is that we keep dwelling on it. Really, this has to stop.

Owen D. Jones, The End of (Discussing) Free Will, 18 March 2012

This quote was made by Owen Jones in an article published in 2012. I share it because I feel the author is not only being cavalier but wrongly so. According to the bio at the end of the article, Owen D. Jones is a professor of law and biological sciences at Vanderbilt University. As I see it, the problem is not some theoretical—What is the sound of one hand clapping?—pseudo-problem. Human agency is the basis of our legal and jurisprudence systems.

Like good magicians, people like Owen want to redirect your focus to neuroscience and consciousness rather than have to explain how the causal engine that is the brain manifests itself ex nihilo.

Doubling down on my causa sui position, humans may be able to make constrained solutions, and yet they never have control over the constrained system they inherit. I discuss this at length elsewhere, but I wanted to address this comment forthright.

I’ll leave with a quote I tend to trot out a lot.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

— Upton Sinclair, prepared speech, I, Candidate for Governor (1935)

Free will is a necessary illusion for power structures to propagate or they will lose a cornerstone of their control mechanisms. And since humans want to feel they are in control, they are willing to accept the downside for the illusion of an upside.

4 thoughts on “Can We Just Stop Talking About Free Will

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