Free Will as a Problem in Neurobiology

John R. Searle 


The problem of free will arises because of the conflict between two inconsistent impulses, the experience of freedom and the conviction of determinism. Perhaps we can resolve these by examining neurobiological correlates of the experience of freedom. If free will is not to be an illusion, it must have a corresponding neurobiological reality. An explanation of this issue leads us to an account of rationality and the self, as well as how consciousness can move bodies at all. I explore two hypotheses. On the first, freedom is a complete illusion. On the second, it is not an illusion, and there is a corresponding indeterminism at the neurobiological level. This can only occur if there is in fact a quantum mechanical element in the fundamental neurobiology of consciousness.