Jerry Coyne on Free Will

Looks like the guy finally thought about it and came to a few good conclusions.
Biology and free will

As a materialist he is remarkably consistent.

I’ve always tried to avoid thinking about free will, realizing that that way lies madness. As a materialist, I couldn’t see any way that our thoughts and behavior, which come from our neurons and muscles, which themselves result from the interaction between our genes and our environment, could truly be influenced by our “will.” Yes, there may be quantum uncertainties, but I don’t see how those can be influenced by our minds, or play any role in the notion that our decisions are freely taken. [b]But if you don’t believe in free will, you might be tempted to stop thinking so hard about what you do, and start questioning the idea of moral responsibility. The end result is nihilism. [/b] [b]Although Pink gives a useful summary of the history of philosophical arguments about free will, he completely neglects science, eventually claiming that free will is a reality largely because we feel that we have it. Pink’s neglect of physics, chemistry, and biology—that is, the whole area of naturalism and determinism— is inexcusable.[/b]

Nevertheless, like all humans I prefer to think that I can make my own decisions. I decided to adopt an uneasy compromise, believing that there’s no such thing as free will but acting as if there were. And I decided to stop thinking about the issue, deliberately avoiding the huge philosophical literature on free will.

Further down:

And if you accept this definition, there’s no way to respond to the question of “Do we have free will?” except with a vigorous “No!” [b]If you answer, “yes,” then you’re tacitly accepting a mind/body duality and a species of vitalism that has no part in science or naturalism.[/b] As I see it,[b] you can no more be consistently scientific and believe in free will[/b] than you can be consistently scientific and believe in a theistic God.
Coyne realises a few things: 1) Materialism and naturalism from a mechanistic point of view do not allow for free will.
  1. Coyne understands that this leads to moral nihilism (so much for trying to use naturalism or materialism in a debate about morals) and that it undercuts reason itself. Thoughts (e.g. reasoning and using logic) are only epiphenomena and are nothing but mechanistic processes that are not linked to reason in any way.

Of course, normal people would find these views a bit troubling if they take reason and rationality serious. Coyne’s solution to these views… don’t think about it. I suppose that is probably the best way to deal with it from his perspective :-.

So do I, but fortunately free will is not required for decision making.

Based on what definition of free will?

Which definitions have you got?

You made this assertion:

Support it, don’t cop-out. Which definition{s} of free will do you use?

Any and all of them I have come across so far, I think the term is meaningless. If you believe “free will” exists, you define it. I don’t think it is necessary for decision making, decisions made in a deterministic universe would still be decisions.

Riiiight… ok then. Explain again how decisions are made in a deterministic world without free will please.

Same way they are made now, just more predictably.

How about a real explanation please?

Not until you define “real” to my satisfaction. When you say real, you seem to mean make-believe.

Explain how decisions that are made in a deterministic world without free will are made in the same way they are made now, just more predictably.

Please make sense of the above because that is essentially what you are saying. Make an effort please.

Sure, as soon as you explain how decisions supposedly made in a world with “free will” are any different.

Nice dodge, try again.

Not a dodge, a pre-requisite for my explanation. Until I understand exactly what you mean by “free will” I will be unable to explain why it is unnecessary.