Norman Samish writes:

The answer to Stat[h]is' question seems straightforward.  Given quantum
indeterminacy, thought processes cannot be predictable.  Therefore, genuine
free will exists.

"...Can someone please explain how I can tell when I am exercising *genuine*
free will, as opposed to this pseudo-free variety, which clearly I have no
control over?"


Norman Samish

So if, on a whim, I commit murder, I can present the following argument to the judge:


Your Honour, quantum indeterminacy made me do it. If you could have looked inside my brain just prior to the moment when I decided to become a murderer you would have seen a sodium ion teetering at the edge of a protein ion channel embedded in the membrane of a particular neuron. If the sodium ion passes through the channel it will raise the voltage across the membrane to just past the threshold required to trigger an action potential. The neurone will then "fire", setting off a cascade of neuronal events which I experience as the decision to kill an innocent stranger - which I then proceeded to do. If, on the other hand, that crucial sodium ion had not passed through the membrane channel, a different cascade of neuronal events would have ensued, causing me to allow the stranger to live.

I cannot deny that it felt like I was exercising my free will when I decided to kill, but clearly this must have been a delusion. Firstly, the cause of my "decision" was a random event (to the extent where non-classical behaviour applies to the sort of biochemical reactions which occur in the brain). Secondly, my "decision" had already been determined at the point where the behaviour of that initial sodium ion was determined; when I experienced myself "deciding" to kill, in a sense my brain had already been programmed to do so. Therefore, I don't think it is fair that I should be punished!

--Stathis Papaioannou

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