Theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli.
I wrote about this guy last year: http://clantilyscad.com/2012/05/25/science-is-not-about-certainty/
He’s back with an Edge Conversation about Free Will and Physics.
Via Rovelli on a new Edge.org article:
Any attempt to link this discussion to moral, ethical or legal issues, as is often been done, is pure nonsense… There is no contradiction between saying that a stone flew into the sky because a force pushed it, or because a volcano exploded. In the same manner, there is no contradiction in saying we do not commit murder because something is encoded in the decision-making structure of our brain or because we are bound by a moral belief.
Free will has nothing to do with quantum mechanics. We are deeply unpredictable beings, like most macroscopic systems. There is no incompatibility between free will and microscopic determinism. The significance of free will is that behavior is not determined by external constraints, not by the psychological description of our neural states to which we access. The idea that free will may have to do with the ability to make different choices on equal internal states is an absurdity, as the ideal experiment I have described above shows. The issue has no bearing on questions of a moral or legal nature. Our idea of being free is correct, but it is just a way to say that we are ignorant on why we make choices.”
I haven’t studied philosophy formally at all, but I like what this guy has to say about it so far. I’ll tab Rovelli on my list of favorite scientists who also know how to write.
From what I understand from my superficial philosophical dialogue-watching, I agree with Sam Harris that free will is an “incoherent concept.”
But free will is a mindfuck of a thing to get your head around. Even without any discussion of quantum mechanics.