Descartes and subsequently Newton, in their mathematical descriptions of the
universe, precipitated a crisis for any easy acceptance of human free will .
As an apparent confirmation of this strict determinism, neurobiologists
have argued in recent years that their results also exclude free will . . .
These neurobiological results, however, do not justify any strong conclusion
about whether or not brains make decisions . . .
Despite their shortcomings, attempts to understand freedom of choice have had
the merit of emphasizing the two questions that must be addressed: (1)
what is the source of unpredictability that provides an opportunity for
choice and (2) what is the nature of decision . . .
Recent mathematical analysis of the evolution of communication by natural
selection in the presence of noise reveals unexpected explanations for the
unpredictability confronting an organism and for the organism's decisions . .
This analysis makes it clear that decisions are ubiquitous for receivers and
perceivers . . .
Nevertheless, a human brain cannot completely predict another comparable
brain's activity . . .
An example of the interaction of predictability and decision in a
deterministic universe is provided by chess . . .
In such a noisy world, we can legitimately judge competence at chess based on
the decisions a player makes. In a similar way, we can judge moral
competence based on a person's decisions in other situations . . .
All of these judgments, it is important to realize, are decisions in
under-specified situations, in other words, in response to noisy perceptions.
They are not an indefinite regression of determinism, just responses
to pervasive unpredictability in a noisy world.
Noise affects everything we do.