Nautilus

Can Neuroscience Understand Free Will?

Perhaps free will won’t forever be an issue philosophers mull over for a lifetime. Whatever the result, there’s always the ironic answer to the question of whether we have free will: “Of course we do. We have no choice.”Screengrab via The Good Place / YouTube

n , a cerebral fantasy-comedy TV series, moral philosophy gets teased. On YouTube, the show released a promotional video, “This Is Why Everyone Hates Moral Philosophy,” that gets its title from a line directed at Chidi, a Senegalese professor of moral philosophy who suffers from chronic indecision: The pros and cons of even trivial choices have long paralyzed him. We see him, as a precocious boy, urged to get on with picking teammates for a soccer game. Flustered, Chidi explains, “I have to consider all the factors: athletic strategies, the fragile egos of my classmates, and gender politics! Should I pick a girl as a gesture toward question. That’s why everyone hates moral philosophy professors.” Both of them chuckle and she adds, “No offense.”

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