No, You Don’t Have Free Will, and This is Why

JayMan's Blog


Slate recently featured an article written by Roy F. Baumeister, Do You Really Have Free Will?  In it, he claims that human do indeed have free will, something that regular readers will know that I have emphatically argued against.

Baumeister doesn’t make any supernatural appeals in this article; he does not appeal to some sort of mystical “uncaused cause”.  So how does he make the case? He does it by confusing “free will” with agency, that is, the ability to make decisions, especially those that involve human-level “self-control” and response to socially constructed rules:

Arguments about free will are mostly semantic arguments about definitions. Most experts who deny free will are arguing against peculiar, unscientific versions of the idea, such as that “free will” means that causality is not involved. As my longtime friend and colleague John Bargh put it once in a debate, “Free will means freedom from…

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