Free Will

Is choice an illusion?

We have genetics which determine our personalities, our preferences, our predilections. Really? What evidence is there to support this and to what extent?

The society we are born into is based upon values we are taught as children. Religious, socio-economic and political values are determined for us. The resources available are also determined.

For any choice we make, it is only a choice from the determined options available and based on our genetically determined predispositions.


The sticking point with free will vs determinism is that determinism has an empirical basis: easy to confirm, extrapolate from, and lots of evidence. Free will on the other hand is a value-based assertion which hinges upon the definition of ’emergent property’ and includes phenomena such as evaluation of data, projecting results into the future, the definition of intelligence, and creativity.

The information I’ve come across so far indicates that different sections of the brain are related to those phenomena but no sources incorporate the concept of emergent property into their analyses.

‘Emergent property’ means an unpredictable effect. Molecules of water have the emergent property of being ‘wet’. No ‘wetness’ can be extrapolated by analysing a clump of water molecules. The same for oxygen which has the emergent property of ‘blue’ in sunlight.

Engaging in a decision-making process is one method of determining (haha) if free will, as nebulous a term as that is, can be evaluated. Another is the ability to communicate the internal processes of that decision to others.

What is that which chooses what to evaluate?
What is that which decides what is not relevant?
What is that which determines what course of action to take?
What makes the selection?

So, in fact, this topic of free will is actually the attempt to define consciousness. Are we conscious or are we merely reactions and difference engines with the emergent property of being able to chat to each other about our predilections?

Can emergent properties which self-identify and communicate that self-ness therefore be ‘consciousness’ and, therefore, that free will is the focal point within an ocean of pre-determined phenomena?

Know yourself.