I’ve been gone most of the day, and am only now beginning to catch up with the many good comments about free will. I knew that I wouldn’t get broad agreement (or even much agreement) on my contracausal notion of free will, but I do think that the advances of science have forced people to rethink and redefine “free will.” I’ll be back in action tomorrow, but for the nonce I’d like to pose this question:
To those who think that “free will” resides entirely in the making of choices, even if in some sense those choices are determined, please respond to this:
How many species other than humans have free will? Do cats have it? How about birds? Mice?
Animals, after all, appear to make decisions the same way we do. Anybody who has cats knows this: at naptime they appear to consider their options for a sleeping spot, and when faced with a human about to open a door, they seem to ponder whether to come in or not. When a female sage grouse approaches a lek of males, frantically displaying to get her attention, she appears to choose which male to mate with. How neurologically simple must a species be before we stop saying that it makes choices?
Ergo, I’d like to know peoples’ own concept of “free will” (if, indeed, they think it’s a coherent concept), and then, according to that notion, a judgment about whether the facility is limited to humans (Dan Dennett, as I recall, thinks it is).
And I promise not to post on the topic again for at least a month.