For some of you who get tripped up on the logic of why choice is impossible, here are some very straightforward studies of free will, the results of which will hopefully stifle some of your righteous indignation. Take a look:
Here's an article about a study at the Max Planck Institute, in which... "Test subjects chose whether to push a button with their right or left hand; seven seconds before they experienced making the choice, their brain activity already predicted their final decisions." Here's a link, in case you don't believe me: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/04/is-free-will-an/
Here's another study, published in Science in 2009. Subjects were undergoing awake brain surgery, and their responses to specific brain regions being stimulated was recorded. The visuals on the webpage (http://neuroskeptic.blogspot.com/2009/05/science-vs-free-will-again.html) and this quote explain it so nicely that I don't need to....
"If these present results hold up, they'll certainly suggest some interesting ideas about the organization of the brain - such as that the perception of movement depends upon the neurones encoding the intention to move rather than those involved in producing the actual motor act.
It would also be interesting to find out what happens when you simulataneously stimulate the premotor spot which makes your arm move, and the posterior parietal spot which makes you want to move your arm. Would that make you want to move your arm - and do so? If so, that would suggest that something very similar to that is going on whenever we do anything. What is life, but wanting to move, and moving?"
Or, here's a lovely scenerio, ennacted at the Institute for Cognitive Nueroscience, in London..." the nerve centre – if you will – of British brain research. Prof Haggard is demonstrating "transcranial magnetic stimulation", a technique that uses magnetic coils to affect one's brain, and then to control the body. One of his research assistants, Christina Fuentes, is holding a loop-shaped paddle next to his head, moving it fractionally. "If we get it right, it might cause something." She presses a switch, and the coil activates with a click. Prof Haggard's hand twitches. "It's not me doing that," he assures me, "it's her."
The machinery can't force Prof Haggard to do anything really complicated – "You can't make me sign my name," he says, almost ruefully – but at one point, Christina is able to waggle his index finger slightly, like a schoolmaster. It's very fine control, a part of the brain specifically in command of a part of the body. "There's quite a detailed map of the brain's wiring to the body that you can build," he tells me.
The idea that our bodies can be controlled by an outside force is a pretty astonishing one. "This is absolutely out of my control," insists Prof Haggard, as his muscles continue to move. "I'm not doing it, Christina is. I'm just a machine, and she is operating me."
What does this mean in terms of free will? "We don't have free will, in the spiritual sense. What you're seeing is the last output stage of a machine. There are lots of things that happen before this stage – plans, goals, learning – and those are the reasons we do more interesting things than just waggle fingers. But there's no ghost in the machine."
So do you get it now people? There is no damn ghost in the machine, and a machine is exactly what we are. Programmable, predictable, and responsive to external stimuli. That we perceive ourselves to be in control of our actions is just our own stupidity because we do not understand enough of the actual processes to conclude that ALL of our actions are explainable as responses to preceding stimuli. Get over it! You're a rock! You're a robot! You have no damn control over it! That means no responsibility. That means it's impossible to make mistakes, so do whateva the fuck you wanna do with life. This conclusion is why the deterministic philosophy is so reviled. People want to put blame somewhere, so they insist that each other be responsible for what they've done, that they can point to a scapegoat for their suffering. They want a reason for it all, so they insist on purpose and responsibility, but it's all bollox! It's all shit! Shite! Shimata! We are what we are and that's all we can ever be. Boo-fuckin-hoooo!