I think the consensus among most materialists is that "living beings" have a common ancestor. I say "living beings" in quotes because I don't even know what it means that something is alive (biologically) or if determinists believe in something "alive". Now if the medium of evolution was the natural selection, that is another thing, I know it's not a theory 100% true or at least I have seen a lot of discrepancy about it, it is a theory after all. For my part, it seems to me the most intuitive theory so far (if there is any better then inform me).

Is the natural selection indeterministic? I think so, because "living beings" act to survive. Can this be similar to free will? Now I will take the example of chess engines, in particular those that work with neural networks. When a module wants to analyze a move, where does it start? And when the network decides to end? In principle, the moves to be analyzed could be ad infinitum, since the module might want to draw on purpose (without repeating moves). Suppose the module will look for the winning moves, there are a finite number of moves (incredibly large of course), how does the machine know which move will win? I ask all these questions because as far as I know the decisions made by a neural network are not supervised by any programmer, they only set the rules and the objective.

Having said all this, How does a determinist explain the order that the neural network chooses to begin analyzing the moves? All possible choices have the same probability of winning, at least in the first instance, this is if the neural network has no experience. Doesn't this look like natural selection? And is the initial random ability of choice and the subsequent acquisition of experience a sample of free will? (If we can define free will)

How does determinism explain all this?

EDIT: Does compatibilism imply that a chess program has free will? This question might seem similar but it is not. First, because the answers do not take into account the recent incorporation of neural networks, my question is directed to a deterministic perspective (not compatibilism) and I am also saying that the objective that we have is not different from a chess module, the module wants win, and we, according to natural selection, want to survive.


Free will is a vague and difficult notion, requiring at least, I believe, a working definition of time. Good luck with that! But while I'm not sure I follow your argument, it seems to me that neither case is a promising description of free will.

Free will requires purposes and limits for "traction." Chess has a purpose and subsidiary purposes within a defined set of moves and a vast set of possibilities rapidly reduced to a deterministic state. But the player is unfree in the sense that it cannot change the rules. Free will in a Kantian sense, at least, implies a free selection of the "rules," or practical actions, without regard to purposes.

In the case of natural selection, there are no purposes. The causal mechanisms are "random," at least at the micro level, and the determining "choices" are made by an environment without purposes, we assume. What sort of active subject is an "environment"?

Free will, whatever that means, is not randomness nor purposelessness. So it is more like chess, but a chess game in which the possibilities are not artificially divided in half by "rules" and rapidly reduced, as in information theory. Perhaps an "underdetermined" game in which the chess board keeps adding rows, biologically growing, thus avoiding the self-negating mechanical equation: checkmate.

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    I think you meant to say "micro" instead of "macro" as evolution is stochastic in the micro scale and appears to be not in macro. – Ghostpunk Feb 19 at 11:57

Determinism explains nothing.

Determinism is just a simplified model of reality excluding everything intentional and unintentional. In determinism nothing happens by choice or by chance.

Chess is a game of choice. The player who makes better choices wins. A chess computer cannot make any choices at all. It can only implement the choices made by the programmer.

Natural selection is a game of chance. The organism with better genes survives.

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