Thanks Russell for an interesting article. Perhaps the closing paragraph on “free will” was superfluous as it doesn’t really follow from the preceding arguments. More importantly, it assumes a binary opposition (free/not free) but as best as we can tell most things aren’t binary at all, least of all phenomenon connected with the human brain. It’s the same problem we run into with other words like “intelligence” and “consciousness.” Because we have a word for it (however vague the definition may be….) we assume a kind of concrete reality for it. We seem, however, to be vaguely semi-conscious some of the time. Evolution has clearly hardwired us with a huge set of default behaviors, which clearly constrain any notion of “free will” no matter how generously one may define such a concept. So in the end it may be worth avoiding an accidental polarity and instead doing what science does: trying to dig up phenomenon, trying to understand the underlying causes of those phenomenon, and constructing hypotheses that can be tested against the phenomenon.

Beyond that, the waters become very treacherous indeed….

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