Implementing Free Will

By: Bruce Edmonds
Date: 16th October 2003
CPM Report No.: CPM-03-124

To be published as: Edmonds, B. (in press) Implementing Free Will. In Davis, D. N. Visions of Mind - Architectures for Cognition and Affect. IDEA Group Publishing, 140-156.

This is a substantially revised version of CPM Report 00-57.


Free will is described in terms of the useful properties that it could confer, explaining why it might have been selected for over the course of evolution. These are: exterior unpredictability; interior rationality; and social accountability.  A process is described that might bring it about when deployed in a suitable social context.  It is suggested that this process could itself be of an evolutionary nature – that free will might “evolve” in the brain during development.  This mental evolution effectively separates the internal and external contexts, whilst retaining the coherency between individual’s public accounts of their actions.  This is supported by the properties of evolutionary algorithms and possesses the three desired properties.  Some objections to the possibility of free will are dealt with by pointing out the prima facie evidence and showing how an assumption that everything must be either deterministic or random can result from an unsupported assumption of universalism.
Keywords: Free will, evolution, context, randomness, predictability, rationality

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