In "The Grand Design" Stephen Hawking claims that free will does not exist. He uses the evidence of a study in neuroscience which found that the stimulation of certain regions of the brain resulted in the stimulation of certain desires; ex. a desire to move one's right arm. But does the mere fact that we can not decide our desires mean that we don't have free will? Don't we have the ability to control these desires and act in an appropriate way? Isn't that free will?

I hope that you are wrong in your account of what Stephen Hawking writes in The Grand Design, because it is so obviously wrong and uninformed. There is no freewill, Hawking writes, according to you, and the reason is that stimulation of particular regions of the brain results in certain desires, such as a desire to move one's right arm.

Consider an analogy. One might want to argue there is no such thing as a free or random roulette wheel, because magnetic "stimulation" of some number on the wheel will make the ball want to land there. Of course to say that a human action is free is not to say that it is random, but to say that a human action is free has something in common with saying, of a roulette wheel, that it is not rigged or that the ball is somehow forced to land where it does.

From the fact that I want to raise my arm when my torturer's make me want to does not show that when I am not being tortured my desire to reaise it is not free. Even if some human actions are not free, in cases where there is stimulation of the brain, how does this have even the slightest tendency to show that, in cases where there is no stimulation of the brain, there is no freewill?

And finally, it is vary hard to evaluate what Hawking writes if he does not tell us what "free" means or what it means for a "will" to be "free." Hawking is a determinist, so one can infer that he believes that if something has a cause then it is not free. (This proposition is called the "incompatibility thesis", as it asserts the incompatibility of the predicates "free" and "caused".) However, if Johnny is caused to eat his soup by his hunger, that hardly means that his eating is unfree. For that to be the case, a minimum condition is that he is unable not to eat his soup, i.e. that his hunger is so extreme as to force him to eat his soup, or perhaps that a parent is threatening him with a wooden spoon and making him eat up his nice soup, or else.

Of course Hawking may be right in what he asserts, but the argument in the passage you describe does nothing to show that this is the case.

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