Is Science Metaphysically Neutral About Free Will?

Re: Iris Fry Is science metaphysically neutral?  Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Volume 43, Issue 3, September 2012, Pages 665-673 .

Article excerpt: “Reflecting the growing realization toward the beginning of the 19th century that biological organization is a unique characteristic of life, he also argued that organisms can be understood only when evaluated ‘‘as if’’ their complex and interactive organization was designed (Kant 1987[1790], p. 383).”

My comment:
We have since learned that biological organization must be used to evaluate the complex characteristics of life.  Biological organization must be used because life always experientially interacts with the sensory environment via the epigenetic effects of nutrient chemicals on receptor-mediated individual survival and epigenetic effects of pheromones on receptor-mediated species survival.

Odors and pheromones, for example, directly effect olfactory receptors. This allows them to cause changes in intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression. The result is changes in behavior that are predictable because of its biological organization (the evolved gene, cell, tissue, organ, organ system pathway I have detailed).

In this context, Kant missed an important scientific truth. His philosophy was that human free will must be denied if  odors influence human emotions and behaviors.  We now know that being human does not mean being fully conscious and above the kind of gross, reflex reactions animals experience. Indeed, in my model we are genetically predisposed and classically conditioned to respond to olfactory/pheromonal input that unconsciously affects our behavior — just like it does in every other species on this planet.

I’ve moved beyond debate about the opinions of long dead philosophers, and have even attempted discussion of free will with people who don’t seem to understand the difference between Pavlovian (e.g. classical conditioning) and operant conditioning (e.g., training). Olfactory/pheromonal input,  for example, classically conditions genetically predisposed biologically based (e.g., receptor-mediated) behaviors. These behaviors are not linked to free will in any species, because they are required for species survival. Without behavior that is classically conditioned by exposure to nutrient chemicals, individual organisms would starve to death. Without behavior that is classically conditioned by pheromones, species could not efficiently reproduce.

This means operant conditioning must be the basis for our free will. Unlike other animals, we can chose to respond or not to the rewards associated with operant conditioning because only classical conditioning is directly linked (e.g., epigenetically via olfactory/pheromonal input) to behaviors that are required for species survival. Unfortunately, it is today’s behaviorists and animal trainers who have taken Kant’s unscientifically supported philosophical position on odors. They seem to think that training animals is pertinent to the biology of behavior in humans who have the free will to choose not to respond to the variety of cues used to train other animals.

Our ability to choose links operant conditioning to free will. Understanding the difference between classical conditioning and operant conditioning could lead to more rapid progress than what has occurred due to Kant’s influence on behaviorists and animal trainers.

About James V. Kohl 1307 Articles
James Vaughn Kohl was the first to accurately conceptualize human pheromones, and began presenting his findings to the scientific community in 1992. He continues to present to, and publish for, diverse scientific and lay audiences, while constantly monitoring the scientific presses for new information that is relevant to the development of his initial and ongoing conceptualization of human pheromones. Recently, Kohl integrated scientific evidence that pinpoints the evolved neurophysiological mechanism that links olfactory/pheromonal input to genes in hormone-secreting cells of tissue in a specific area of the brain that is primarily involved in the sensory integration of olfactory and visual input, and in the development of human sexual preferences. His award-winning 2007 article/book chapter on multisensory integration: The Mind’s Eyes: Human pheromones, neuroscience, and male sexual preferences followed an award winning 2001 publication: Human pheromones: integrating neuroendocrinology and ethology, which was coauthored by disinguished researchers from Vienna. Rarely do researchers win awards in multiple disciplines, but Kohl’s 2001 award was for neuroscience, and his 2007 “Reiss Theory” award was for social science. Kohl has worked as a medical laboratory scientist since 1974, and he has devoted more than twenty-five years to researching the relationship between the sense of smell and the development of human sexual preferences. Unlike many researchers who work with non-human subjects, medical laboratory scientists use the latest technology from many scientific disciplines to perform a variety of specialized diagnostic medical testing on people. James V. Kohl is certified with: * American Society for Clinical Pathology * American Medical Technologists James V. Kohl is a member of: * Society for Neuroscience * Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology * Association for Chemoreception Sciences * Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality * International Society for Human Ethology * American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science * Mensa, the international high IQ society