Do humans have free will? Are we able to make choices and influence our own thinking and actions?
Or is all of our brain activity just the quivering of atoms based on causal antecedents ignited at the beginning of time?
If the latter, then is thinking – including thinking about free will, even possible, or is it totally outside of our control?
Might it be true that thinking, choosing, and acting in pursuit of desired goals and values is all just an illusion?
Does science really support the latter, as best-selling author and neuroscientist Sam Harris claims?
This essay looks at the issue of free will and determinism based on the writings of Sam Harris in his book ‘Free Will.’ The materialist view of man that Dr. Harris advocates has been popular for 2,500 years, but is seeing a resurgence as neuroscientists proclaim that recent scientific evidence proves that free will is an illusion.
These are the questions I address in this short essay in response to arguments put forward by Sam Harris as representative of the new wave of ideas being put forth by determinists and taught as scientific truths in our universities. I demonstrate how and why such arguments are based on faulty reasoning more akin to mysticism than reputable science.
This issue is of importance to business executives because if the existence of free will continues to come under attack by mainstream science as a mental illusion or figment of the human mind, then the legitimacy of concepts we take for granted as fundamentally underlying all constructive purposeful goal-directed human action and required for human survival, must of necessity also be illusory, such as personal freedom, choice, responsibility, accountability, planning, foresight, logic, etc., and all concepts and applications derived therefrom.