Horgan sides, somewhat tentatively, with free will. He notes that humans are more than just heaps of particles. Higher levels of complexity enable genuinely new qualities. What humans can do is not merely a more complex version of what amoebas can do — in turn, a more complex version of what electrons can do. Greater complexity can involve genuinely new qualities. A philosopher would say that he is not a reductionist.
Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor is challenging evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne and philosopher Massimo Pigliucci to a debate. He thinks there is too much of this no-free-will nonsense in the science blogosphere. Egnor: “Free will has no physical cause? At least four categories of events in nature have no physical cause. Free will denial isn’t science, just atheism in a lab coat.”
Michael Egnor: If we lack free will, we have no justification whatsoever to even believe that we lack free will. In a timeless block however, the future exists simultaneously with the past and present — but that does not mean that the future determines the past and present.
In response to Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb denying free will and all that, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor points out, “Logic and reason aren’t laws of physics and therefore they transcend physical properties.”
Hunter: This is no scientific hypothesis and this video shows why this claim is false.
To deny free will, biologist Jerry Coyne tries, once again, to defeat the implications of quantum mechanics, neuroscience, and logic.
It’s interesting that a science writer sees through the most fundamental materialist rot. Unfortunately, it sounds as though he hopes to replace it with a different one.
Egnor is responding to a reader’s question about whether neuroscience has disproven free will.
Denying free will means that totalitarianism is a viable government idea.
Michael Egnor: “Except for action of any quantum events”? I challenge Coyne: What in nature isn’t the action of quantum events? Certainly, every event in the brain is quantum in nature—every brain state, every action potential, every secretion of a neurotransmitter, every bit of protein synthesis or ion flow—is the consequence of quantum events.
Egnor: “An intellectual seizure would be a seizure that caused abstract thought, such as logic, or reasoning, or mathematics. People never have, for example, mathematics seizures—seizures in which they involuntarily do calculus or arithmetic. This observation, which is as true today as it was in Penfield’s time nearly a century ago, begs for explanation.” He offers an argument for the immaterial powers of the mind.
Egnor: [fMRI isn’t decisive.] But fMRI is worthless in the neuroscience of free will. To understand why, note that fMRI has very poor temporal resolution. fMRI measures changes in blood flow in the brain in response to activity of neurons, and these changes lag neuronal activity by at least several seconds.
Also, let this sink in: Despite believing in determinism, Hossenfelder believes we should “decide” against a new particle collider… We can decide? On that account, to other naturalists, she is “anti-science.” Naturalism is weird like that. Eats its own.
Scientists weigh in on both sides but accepting free will allows us to avoid some serious problems around logic and personal freedom.
Egnor: 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.