Free will

Those who challenge evolutionary theory that is based on spontaneous replication and natural selection focus mainly on presupposed free will of a human being. They say that evolutionary theory contradicts a fact that can not be challenged, namely that a man has a free will. If consciousness is “only” a result of neural interactions; if we can not define a place where we can find “me” with presupposed free will; if “me” is only emergent property of brains that interact with other subsystems of the body and external subsystems; then a man can not have free will, they say. And since we all experience our free will al the time then evolutionary theory must be wrong. Even more: if it was true, if there was no free will, a man would live without limits; a man would loose all responsibility.

It seems like free will argument heavily supports “intelligent design” patriots.

There are in fact many answers to this challenge that resolve this apparent impossibility that free will could merge with evolutionary theory. Let’s mention one: If there is no place in brains where something as “me” (manager) would be located, this still does not contradict free will existence. In the same manner as we do not exist in brains only free will is not to be located in brains only. When we start to understand free will as feature that comes out of higher system, whole body, then it is perhaps easier to understand, that a will is neither unified marble block nor detectable point somewhere in our body. If a part of my body acts on its own (against my will), does this mean that I have no free will? It does not, since a part of my body is me as much as my brains. Each part of my body down to the last cell abridge my will but at the same time constitute it. Exactly because I am atomized, I have free will. Exactly because I am atomized (embodied) , my free will is not absolute but partial.

A will is always confined by “neighbouring” systems and neighbouring systems are nothing but environment. Like we could not walk unless there was a friction between our legs and the ground (caused by gravity), there is no will without environmental restrictions. There is no freedom without confinements, no free will without peculiar determinism written in evolution. This evolutionary determinism is peculiar for it gets weaker and weaker with each step further forth from our present moment. It is a determinism of fitness landscape and free will determined by elbow room (Daniel Dennett) established in each moment in relation to specific position within such fitness landscape.


Andrej Drapal