He says they don’t seem to understand the neuroscience:
Now let’s get to the neuroscience. Neuroscience has a lot to contribute to the debate over free will and all of it supports the reality of free will. There isn’t a shred of neuroscientific evidence that contradicts the reality of free will.
Two major types of experiments address the question of free will:
The first is the experiments of Benjamin Libet, a mid- to late 20th century neuroscientist who studied the precise timing of electrical activity in the brain and conscious decisions to do simple tasks such pushing a button. Libet found that we have pre-conscious impulses characterized by spikes in brain waves that precede conscious decisions by about a half-second. But he also found that these pre-conscious impulses (which are not freely generated) are merely temptations. We retain the power to accept or reject them, and acceptance or rejection of these temptations is not accompanied by brain waves. Libet called this state “free won’t”: We are bombarded by temptations that are beyond our immediate control but we have the immaterial freedom to accept or reject them. He noted the congruence between his experimental results and the traditional Jewish and Christian understanding of sin. We are tempted involuntarily but we always have freedom to comply with or reject temptation…
If Dr. Coyne reads this far in this post, I challenge him: If free will is determined by brain states, show us the medical or neuroscience evidence that free will is ever evoked by seizure or by neurosurgical stimulation of the brain. In other words, Dr. Coyne, show me the neuroscience behind your bizarre denial of free will.Michael Egnor, “Neuroscience can help us understand why our minds and free will are real” at Mind Matters News
Okay but for many people today, none of that matters. Increasingly, what matters is a sort of blather in favor of materialism that sounds “sciencey.” Maybe that’s part of why progress has stalled in so many fields.
Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor has written a fair bit on free will for Mind Matters News. Here are some selections to consider:
No free will means no justice: “Free will is the cornerstone of all human rights and the cornerstone of our Constitutional rights. The denial of free will is, literally, the denial of human freedom. Without free will, we are livestock, without the presumption of innocence, without actual innocence, and without rights. A justice system that has no respect for free will—a justice system in which human choices are diseases— is a system of livestock management applied to homo sapiens.”
Jerry Coyne just can’t give up denying free will. Coyne’s denial of free will, based on determinism, is science denial and junk metaphysics
How Libet’s free will research is misrepresented: Sometimes, says Michael Egnor, misrepresentation may be deliberate because Libet’s work doesn’t support a materialist perspective.
Does “alien hand syndrome” show that we don’t really have free will? One woman’s left hand seemed to have a mind of its own. Did it?
Does brain stimulation research challenge free will? If we can be forced to want something, is the will still free?