People are always talking about this in podcasts and around the internet, and I suppose it’s all quite interesting, but I just wanted to have some clear thoughts about it myself. So I spent a few minutes thinking about it and this is what I came up with.

It’s probably completely wrong. I wouldn’t take this as life advice.

Do we have free will?

Yes. Because…

  1. You have a sort of biological choice algorithm in your head, implemented from neurons organised in neural networks, and it develops in your brain over time, and at any one time that choice algorithm is used to make choices that act on the inputs your brain is receiving. The choice is independent from the inputs, rather than being somehow packaged up and smuggled into your brain along with the inputs

  2. We have the ability to introspect, so in principle we have the ability to observe and see instances of unfree coercion, and change our thought processes accordingly - YMMV, every person’s situation is very different, some have a lot more external pressures than others, which isn’t always bad, but it definitely can be

  3. If you remove everything, so you are an astronaut floating in the emptiness of space, you can still make choices

Therefore humans have free will. In this view, free will is very similar to independence of thought.

Feels kind of good to have that written down, at least I’ve got something I can point to now.

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