Free Will is a Myth — But We Can Still Have Ethics and Hold People Accountable
How free will is a particularly American and Western way of conceiving human nature.
This is more of the same false reasoning of the new atheists (I presume) on free will. It shows signs of desperation. Now ‘free will’ is an American and Western way of thinking. Eh? Persian Zarathustra made free will central at the dawn of monotheism.
The idea’s appearance in Greek philosophy was hardly European or American.
The arguments against (and for) free will never succeed, and the article here refers to a new book that recycles the standard verbiage here, with backup from the usual neuroscience bilge. The dialectic of the question proceeds ad infinitum, so we should expect, perhaps welcome, the endless debate. The danger is that, as with Darwinism, cultic thinking disguised as science, will declare the problem solved and use academic or scientific authoritarianism to force the issue.
The issue of free will is bungle by science because of its thesis of universal determinism. But human psychology, and the issue of the will, simply won’t resolve to a physics argument, thence to a neuroscience argument. The age of scientism has repressed the many debates on these subjects in the era of the Enlightenment, where figures such as Kant produced a clear discourse of the issues in relation to Newtonian science. But all these histories are lost on the cult of scientism which is a heavily specialized form of cultic conditioning in the educational system with its one-track science curriculum, and general ridicule of philosophy and the humanities. Not that a scientific argument for free will is so far off.
These groups, now buttressed by the loudmouth dogmatism of the New Atheists, and the Dawkins groupie cult, declare the problems solved and make life very difficult for the open minded in academia where it is easy to program belief by threatening to flunk, say, those who object to natural selection as science.
The issue of free will simply eludes science, and its probable solution lies in a science dimension beyond current scientism.
It is useful to consider Schopenhauer here, who was very close to skeptics of free will in his philosophical system. There the issue of freedom in relation to the noumenal is a brilliant insight that shows how limited is the current scientific mindset. Beyond that lies the work of Kant, on free will and ethics.
The argument that ethics can exist without assumptions about free will is highly misleading, and indeterminate, yet probably false. What is offered in a substitute is social conditioning of ethical-mimicking behaviorism, but that isn’t ethics, which demands an agent to make ethical decisions.
Pseudo-ethical behaviorism is an unknown, and probably could condition many to a parody of ethical behavior. But the reality of history, notwithstanding the gross violations of ethics in much religious history, suggests that without a sense of moral free will the agent’s behavior will conform to a broad standard, but all to often become pathological on a range of elusive issues. It is clear that disbelief in free will can change the assumptions about the consequences of behavior, for the worse. So it is not so easy to accept the bland assertions about ‘pseudo-ethical behaviorism’. We should be clear that theism is not needed for ethical behavior. To the contrary, the theistic foundation of ethics was clearly critiqued by philosophers such as Kant. But the conclusion is not that free will is a myth. Only that the will exists in isolation from theistic commandment.
it is puzzling to see the amount of energy expended on this futile question, which always stalemates in favor of some belief in free will. We can see from Kant and Schopenhauer how to proceed with the question. But this is lost on those raised in the narrow cults of scientism. They are essentially prevented from studying the tradition.