January 5, 2013

Free will is real

About a year ago I wrote the blog post On the question of whether we have free will in which I referred to the work of Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, John Bargh and Daniel Wegner who all state that we do not have free will and that our perception of a free will is just an illusion. John Bargh, for example, mentions the importance of automatic processes and says that nearly all human behavior should be seen as automatic responses to environmental triggers. Daniel Wegner has shown that respondents in studies have said that certain of their behaviors were intentional while, in reality, these behaviors were evoked by the experimenter In that case free will was indeed an illusion. I also wrote about Valery Chirkov and Daniel Dennett who do believe in free will. I ended my blog post in a certain confusion about free will does or does not exist. I wondered whether it wouldn’t be better to ask to which extent we have a free will than to ask whether or not we have a free will.

In his book "Vrije wil is geen illusie. Hoe de hersenen ons vrijheid verschaffen" (Free will is no illusion. How brains give us freedom) Dutch neuropsychologist Herman Kolk disagrees with these authors who see free will as an illusion.

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