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Can Free Will Be Measured?

free willLike IQ or EQ, there should be FQ: a freedom quotient to show how much free will we have – and how to get more

The cat is crouched low to the ground, whiskers brushing grass. It inches forward in minute movements, eyes drilling towards two sparrows just ahead. It tenses, set to spring. The birds prance like sparring boxers, unaware. But then the cat’s muscles relax. The moment wasn’t quite right – something in the angle or the air. It creeps another inch closer, and another, tautens again, then bursts forwards.

Cats make decisions. And they make decisions about similar kinds of things to us: whom to hang out with and whom to avoid, what to have for dinner tonight and where to get it from. By the standards of most life on Earth, cats have highly sophisticated brains. This gives them a range of behavioural options – a degree of freedom, we might say.

It is often thought that science has shown that there is no such thing as free will. If all things are bound by the same impersonal cosmic laws, then (the story goes) our paths are no freer than those of rocks tumbling down a hill. But this is wrong. Science is giving us a very powerful and clear way to understand freedom of the will. We have just been looking for it in the wrong place. Instead of using an electron microscope or a brain-scanner, we should go to the zoo.

Read more: aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/free-will-is-back-and-maybe-we-can-measure-it/?

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CONVERSATIONS

  1. I think so… It can be measured, in a way…. It might be an empirical way… but it works. I think that freedom of the will comes from your inner freedom…. and stands in a way, in inverse proportion to your fear to live your own life. The will to live life to the full makes the difference… My point is, you need to face up to your life… to what you really are. When you come to that awareness… then you’re “officially” free, ’cause you got a real free will. Otherwise, your free will will be costantly harmstrung with external factors. Unfortunately this thing… this road goes both ways… I mean.. if you come to a POSITIVE awareness… everything’s fine… it will contribute in a positive way… to your life and to the lives of other people. But if you don’t, then… your free will will reduce the free will of others… Thank you. Thank you Dennis!

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