Scientist Claims Humans Have No Free Will And Gives Scientific Reasoning Behind It

By Haider Ali in Science and Technology On 4th November 2023

'Decades' of investigation have led a scientist to conclude that he does not think humans have free will.

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In case you've already watched the entire new season of Black Mirror in one sitting upon release and are itching for more, consider experiencing the sensation of being thrown into an episode yourself.

Be ready to explore the timeless philosophical issues that you usually keep for the post-party at three in the morning.

The existence of free will in humans is a topic of intense discussion.

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Many scientists, philosophers, and the general public contend that humans unquestionably possess free will. Bernardo Kastrup, a philosophy PhD holder who works in some of the world's "foremost research laboratories," is one such example.

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Kastrup defines free will as "if our choices are determined by that which we experientially identify with" in a 2020 Scientific Journal article.

He clarified that his own "tastes and preferences" are "consciously felt by" him and that these felt preferences "determine" his choices.

The scientist makes use of the claim made by 19th-century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer that humans would still have an internal feeling to determine what to do even if our sensory organs were incapable of sensing things and influencing how we view them and then react to them.

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Kastrup resolves: "Therefore, prior to being represented we are essentially will. Our physical body is merely how our will presents itself to an external vantage point."

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In the end, most scientists agree that humans possess some degree of free will, yet one expert disagrees completely.

According to Robert Sapolsky, a neurobiologist at Stanford University, humans lack free will after studying the topic for "decades."

In his recently released book Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will, Sapolsky explores this controversy and makes the case that the majority of human behavior is beyond our conscious control. The book was released on October 17.

The scientist resolves: "The world is really screwed up and made much, much more unfair by the fact that we reward people and punish people for things they have no control over.”

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"We’ve got no free will. Stop attributing stuff to us that isn’t there."

"Nothing more or less than the sum of that which we could not control - our biology, our environments, their interactions," is how Sapolsky describes human nature.

In an interview with CultureLab, he adds: "In terms of my orientation, my basic approach is you look at a behavior and someone has just done something that’s wonderful or awful or ambiguously in-between or in the eyes of the beholder, but some behavior has happened, and you ask, 'Why did that occur?' and you’re asking a whole hierarchy of questions."

According to Sapolsky, these questions start with "which neurons did what, ten milliseconds earlier" and continue all the way back to considering "hormone levels this morning" and how they affect your brain's sensitivity to stimuli. They then go even further back to consider possible trauma from earlier months, childhood and foetal environment, and genes.

The scientist even goes so far as to suggest that you should next inquire about the ancestors' cultures and evolution in general.

Sapolsky resolves: "What you see at that point is, not just saying, 'Wow, when you look at all these different disciplines, collectively, they’re showing we’re just biological machines,' but they’re not all these different disciplines. They’re all one continuous one.”

"If you’re talking about genes, by definition, genes, and behavior, by definition, you’re talking about evolution and you’re talking about neurobiology and genetic variance and neuronal function. If you’re talking about, you know, early trauma in life, you’re talking about epigenetics and you’re talking about adult propensity.”

"So, they’re all one continuous seam of influences, and when you look at it that way, there’s not a damn crack anywhere in there to shoehorn in a notion of free will."