Look I’m no philosopher, but in the last blog, I mentioned I don’t believe in free will any more, and Jeffrey was like, uh, what, so here is my take.
This isn’t going to be one of those dumb theoretical arguments where I make you accept that X is true and then aha then logically you must believe Y. Oh no no. This is pure feels. Here we go.
Chickens. I have owned chickens. Well, not owned. Rented. They are robots. I could write a 100-line program that generates behavior indistinguishable from a real chicken. If chickens have free will, boy, is it hard to tell.
Code. I program sometimes. The code has no free will. It does what I tell it. But it can be at least as unpredictable as chickens.
Brains. People are easily persuaded. I mean, frighteningly so. The older I get, the more the brain seems like a machine with a bunch of controls painted on.
Stories. People crave a narrative. You know that optical illusion where you see things out of the corner of your eye that aren’t there, because your brain sketches in something that would make sense? That’s all of us, all the time.
Probability. We don’t get it. We assign cause and effect to anything that moves. Like, real talk, the universe is an ocean of roiling chaos, where everything is determined by uncaring forces beyond our control. But we thirst for narrative order, so a thing can’t just happen, it has to have a moral purpose. And we are prepared to invent one.
Sports. I like running numbers on things. It turns out that all team sport is basically rolling a bunch of dice and shouting, “The blue dice have started to believe in themselves, they’ve got all the momentum.” This is really just an example of #5 but I didn’t want the paragraph to be that long.
Everything is the same. You’re not so different from a chicken. It’s just a matter of degree. The world isn’t merely non-binary but non-categorical.
Extrapolation. From time to time, I realize people are a bit more predictable than I’d thought. This happens much more often than the other way around. I can follow this trend to its logical conclusion.
Motive. Absence of control is scary. We like to believe we’re in charge of things. That’s suspicious.
And: Whenever I tell someone, they say, “Well, if I don’t have free will, how would I be able to do THIS?” and wave their hands about. They all do this.
That’s basically it. I could be wrong. It’s just the way I’m leaning these days.
It doesn’t change anything, by the way. I don’t like people any less just because they’re wet determinism machines. If anything, it’s endearing. I mean, look at the humans, waving their hands, thinking they’re making choices. That’s adorable. And I’m not going to murder anyone. Even if I can’t avoid it, I feel like I can, and want to avoid that situation. Just like if we’re all living in a computer simulation, being mean to people remains bad, and has exactly the same consequences. Not that we’re living in a computer simulation. That idea is just crazy. It would be a simulation on some kind of device we’ve never heard of.
P.S. I have also read a lot of Philip K. Dick. That could also be a factor.