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Social and philosophical issues in genetics. Part 2

To what extent are we free to decide our actions and to what extent are we predetermined products of our genome?
The idea is: first, is there some kind of determinism? and we have to recognize that determinism is something that do exist because we are living beings made of matter and this matter obey the laws of physics, the laws of chemistry, the laws of biology… in this sense, lots of things are determined. We cannot say that (it’s) everything may happen in any way. No. Gravity exist, DNA has information. If this is considered determinism, free will may exist? Here, the argument is going to be the argument in which free will do exist even if there are lots of constraints. Determinism may exist because there are constrains, but these doesn’t have to hinder free will. The idea is what is called compatibilism.
Daniel Dennett that you are going to see in the interview is a big defender of that. So, the frame work is we are biological beings, material,
we have lots of constrains: physical, chemical, biological… But we are not predictable, we are not determined; we have lots of degrees of freedom, because the degrees of freedom come from huge amount of possibilities. There is signal, there is noise, whenever there is noise there is always an unpredictability; and when there are interactions, the basic laws of physics tell us that is not predictable the final output. The genome is big, but it’s limited, meaning that if every gene favours or informs for a character, the interactions among them are not predictable. And something very simple the amount of information of your brain is in the order of thousand times the information on your genome, meaning that your genome cannot determine your brain.
Your brain comes through interactions and these interactions are not with probability one each of them. One of the nicest views is a picture that Fernando Krahn did some years ago, which is fantastic in the sense that he tells us here how our brain, how our way of seeing the world is mediated by the world itself. The idea then is that there is not something external, still that contemplates the world but these interactions that happens continuously and, in these interactions, always there is room for a lack of total determinism with that opens the door to free will. There is determinism; it does not imply a perfect prediction and in imperfect prediction there is plenty of room for free will.
Sometimes we may say something as simple as that, something as closed to probability of one like point nine, nine, nine. If you put that into a power of ten thousand it goes to zero meaning that in the interactions, if something is not completely one it gets into zero. The idea then is that not everything is possible, of course not, but the universe of possibilities is so huge, the possibilities of exploring it is so rich that we cannot complain and say that we not have free will because there are places which we cannot explore. And this can be seen in other examples like the examples of the universe of all morphologies existing in all living beings
or in other kind of organizations: many things are not possible, but the ones that are, is extremely wide the space they have to discover.

To what extent are we free to decide our actions and to what extent are we predetermined products of our genome?

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Why Biology Matters: The Genome and You

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