The Economist: Free Will and Politics!
My colleague has a beautifully written post at Big Think on recent challenges to the idea of free will. He argues that the claim that free will is an illusion is itself illusory, as it misunderstands the idea of the term "illusion". To claim that something is an illusion is to say that it is a deceptive representation of some other actually existing thing which one has experienced. For example, a desert mirage looks like the sea, but there is no water out there. But internal experiences, such as the sense of having free will don't have any external referent. The sense of having is only an internal experience, and there is no way someone could have an illusory experience of the sensation of freedom, as opposed to a real experience of the sensation of freedom. It'd be like having an illusion of being angry, or, as he more elegantly put it: "That free will you thought you felt, that was an illusion." I think this misses the most important point about contemporary challenges to the idea of free will. The notion that free will is an illusion because reality is mechanistically determined is the old 19th century challenge to free will, Dostoevsky's "Underground Man" piano-key universe of predictable physical collisions.