29 Oct 2023

Clare Wilson: How ‘free’ is free will?

From Sunday Morning, 11:15 am on 29 October 2023

Are your choices ever really yours to make? It’s an age-old philosophical question, but one that regularly rears its head with advances in our understanding of genetics and neuroscience.

Recent publications from two leading neuroscientists have lent wight to the argument that free will is an illusion and that our choices are pre-determined by the make-up of our brain.

The theory has thorny implications for moral dilemmas and ideas about crime and punishment. If our choices are not our own, should we agonise over them?

And do we have the right to punish people for their so-called decisions? We speak to Clare Wilson - a New Scientist journalist focused on medicine, health policy, and neuroscience – who has taken a deep dive into this philosophical and scientific conundrum.  

Male operating puppet controls (Photo by Chris Whitehead / Cultura Creative / Cultura Creative via AFP)