One of the strangest things that I have ever encountered is the difficulty that we as human beings have almost always with accepting and considering ALL the implications and consequences of the concept that free will doesn't exist to any degree whatsoever.
I am not saying the idea is true or proven. My point is that in many articles, books, videos and conversations people demonstrate tremendous difficulty in examining the reality that would be true if this concept is true.
For example, many people have said it simply cannot be true, because either they simply don't believe it (personal incredulity fallacy), or it's not true because it has unpleasant emotions or implications (either argument from consequences fallacy or appeal to emotions fallacy), or it cannot be true because it would negate a cherished belief, a belief that relies on it being true despite having no scientific evidence (a sort of begging the question, believing just because you want to believe) or they don't know how they can deal with it if it isn't true (A type of argument from ignorance).
If you get past that issue then quite often people only partially consider the idea. As a very frequent example, several people have written on the idea that they have “chosen” criticizing others for condemning criminals for example for their high behavior when they believe the criminals are not truly responsible for their crimes if free will doesn't exist in an absolute sense, but they have failed to consider that the people condemning the criminals logically must ALSO have no true choice if free will doesn't exist and they themselves must also likewise have no free will in criticizing the same people.
People seem to be able to act like an audience watching a play with puppetmasters and puppets and to realize the puppets lack free will but to not understand that the audience too lacks free will in these situations. They have a regress, or stepping back to observe the people who lack free will and yet most often don't consider the full implications for the people outside their observations which should include all people including themselves.
Aside from this process of needing to think about a class of people as outside our usual intuitive understanding of behavior as including free will is the fact that we seem to have to take a step back or regress one step further than we are easily able to and it's like a person outside a photo considering the people in the photo as lacking free will and taking a step further to see the photo is in a larger photo, perhaps adding more people who they previously had not realized were in the photo but somehow failing to include everyone or people in every circumstance or especially themselves.
It's a sort of infinite regression and human beings apparently are not suited to perceive the infinite directly, or we have trouble understanding the concept of the absolute absence of free will at least.
Another example is people who think they are being clever or genuinely wise when they say either they have no choice but to believe in free will or to not believe. They are addressing responsibility and not the actual issue. Very often human beings mistake being able to assign responsibility for answering a different question.
The fact that you can believe a lack of free will would make responsibility a false concept or something much different than our current understanding doesn't address the issue of whether free will exists or doesn't exist. It is a different question.
Or saying it does not matter also does not answer the question, not even a little bit.
I have written about this for sime time and think a good way to explain it exists. For example, we can imagine that intelligent life , whether human beings or other beings, could someday send craft to explore space. These craft could have incredibly complex and intelligent machines controlling them. It is much easier to send out machines carrying machines than machines carrying living beings, like human beings for example.
An unmanned craft can withstand more extreme conditions and use less resources as it would not need to protect a crew and maintain an atmosphere and temperature for the comfort of the human occupants.
So, say we hypothetically or another species from another world one day build advanced technology and create ships that are controlled by entirely artificial or computer intelligence. It may include mechanical systems quite different from modern computers or similar, we are not there yet.
But we could well establish that the computers or whatever we use are entirely mechanical, meaning following the rules of physics and they lack free will. Parts interact in ways determined by the nature of physical reality and in no other way. It would be more complex than most physical interactions we observe but the principle that matter and energy don't normally demonstrate free would still be present.
So, we could have incredibly intelligent and complex artificial intelligence developed that pilots craft, selects outcomes to obtain and calculates how to obtain them and controls the craft and other systems such as robots to attain goals. The intelligence might or might not even have emotions like we do. Our emotions help us to make decisions and pick priorities. Imperfectly, certainly, but they do.
The artificial intelligence systems developed could have emotions, just as we do. The systems could have incredibly detailed files including the details of their own design and history to enable them to monitor and repair their own systems as needed.
They could hypothetically think, feel, remember, know and decide as part of their function, just as we do, or perhaps in a very similar fashion. They could “know” they have no free will, none whatsoever.
We as humans can almost instictively understand that things like cars and toasters and computers lack free will. We have an easy time accepting that.
So, imagine a bunch of highly developed artificial intelligence systems developed in a high tech setting that pilot craft and direct robots and direct automated systems of sensors and they communicate with each other and they are so complex they have individual identities and personalities as they have different emotions, beliefs, and experiences.
Imagine they disagree on how to achieve goals and even perhaps on priorities and values.
At some point you have to ask if they feel, think, remember, believe, and decide as we do and they demonstrably have no free will then hiw do we?
Now, you can say “this is an unproven hypothetical! We don't know if such artificial intelligence systems are really possible! So, we don't need to do this thought experiment!”
Okay, let me ask this question then. What harm is there in trying to consider the experiment?
And if free will exists then you need to say when and how. Do infants have free will? Do eggs and sperm? Do child? Do people with structural damage or their brains removed? Does it begin at one moment and cease at another? If humans have it do animals? Which ones? How much?
See, the question of how do you or I possibly have free will and how other emotional, remembering, feeling, thinking creatures don't have free will is difficult to seriously answer. The stock answer that animals or artificial intelligence systems simply lack but that we as human beings simply do is not an adequate explanation.
What makes us special? Our feelings? Many animals display rich and varied emotions. Our intelligence? Many animals have similar aptitude to our own in many areas and it's plausible that artificial intelligence systems could equal or exceed our intelligence, and it's well established that the most intelligent animals are extremely close to human beings in this regard.
And certainly our intelligence varies over our lifetimes so there are times in which normal humans are less intelligent and aware than some animals. So, very young people are not as aware as some chimps at a later stage of their lives.
Dies this mean the chimps have free will? Do the people? If so who or why not?
These are not easy questions to answer.