Julian Sanchez, who began this latest round of the free will debate, feels that Dish readers are in error:

[O]rdinary decisionmaking does not seem like other kinds of “unfree” actiondoing something by reflex or under hypnosis, maybe. Also, we’re no more directly aware of the neural underpinnings of our decisionmaking than we are of, say, our sensory processing. And of course, we aren’t aware of what the results of our deliberation will be in advanceotherwise, why deliberate?so they will be necessarily “open ended” in that sense. But to call these things an “illusion of free will” just seems like a mistake.

It is as if someone had told me for the first time about subatomic theory, and I mused that I nevertheless have this illusion of a solid desk chair, when after all, it is really these clouds of quarks and whatnot. And this would be silly: The parameters of “solid” and “desk chair” are given by ordinary life, and within those bounds the chair is exactly as solid as it ever was. A theory about the microstructure of the chair could notbe in conflict with, or prove “illusory,” my ordinary perceptions,  because they were not perceptions of the microstructure in the first place.

The same goes for claims that we “act as if” we are free, or “cannot help talking as though” we were free. 

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.