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Free Will in a Nutshell

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

Annaka Harris (who has a great new book on the mystery of Consciousness) quoting Galen Strawson on the Making Sense podcast:

“What you do follows from what you are.’ That is why free will is an illusion in a nutshell.”

I struggled for years to first understand this biological fact, upon which neuroscientists and philosophers seem to find common ground. Annaka’s husband may have the definitive book on the subject at the moment.

The ramifications of this acknowledgment are what trip most people up. What are we to do with all the violent criminals if their actions are essentially pre-programed?

My favorite analogy about this comes from Robert Sapolsky:

“The analogy I always use, which is so difficult for people to swallow when it comes to the criminal justice system, is that if a car has faulty brakes, you fix the breaks. If the brakes are not fixable, you put the car in the garage for the rest of the time, and your primary responsibility is to make sure this car with the faulty brakes doesn't hurt anybody. But nobody is saying you're punishing the car. Nobody is accusing your car of having a moral failing. Somehow, we have to reach that mindset.”