by Susan Leem, associate producer
photo: Toni Blay/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0
The nature of “free will” is central for those who study ethics, the law, and religion. And science is getting in on the discussion.
Researchers cannot determine whether humans can make truly voluntary…
The exploration of free will seems a hot topic these days, but this article and the studies suggest some interesting ramifications. Neuroscientists, psychologists and science reductionists are proposing that free will might be an illusion. And whether it is or isn’t, the search for that truth is important. But what might also be true that the answer, and even the proposition, may have negative consequences.
We’re build, us pesky humans, to believe in free will. It drives us and feeds our sense of self as individuals and as a species. Now take that away. Prove (or suggest convincingly) that we’re just a product of our molecules and responding deterministically from the stimuli that came before us. Will people give up? Will selfishness and anti-social behaviour skyrocket? I actually tend to think it will. I believe that believing we have choices and consciously making choices is what makes us human and what makes living worth while. We see the world and choose to act, we choose to change it. Maybe we’re just pretending to, but the act is vital.
So it is interesting that for society to function, we may be need to act as if we have free will, even if we don’t.