My take on the free will issue is that whether or not the precise state of my brain, and my subsequent desires/perceptions/etc, is exactly determined by “mechanical” factors such as the underlying physics and chemistry is irrelevant. I subjectively feel as if I deliberate and choose, and I’m not going to feel that any less even if I accept that it was an illusion. And I think the subjective experience is functional in terms of making moral choices, organizing my life, etc. So I don’t get too worked up about the philosophical accuracy of saying “I choose” to do or not do something.
My point, in terms of beliefs, is that I think the mind is a remarkably plastic thing, and our beliefs, desires, etc can change, both as a consequence of outside factors (e.g. classical conditioning) and as a result of deliberate efforts we make to change our own responses and perspectives. Occam, you changed your own sexist beliefs by virtue of deliberations stimulated by someone else, and I don’t really care if that means you have free will or not, it sure seems like you made a choice to investigate an idea and your own internal deliberations changed your point of view, which is free enough for me. If we can condition complex physical actions mediated by our nervous system (e.g. learned skills), we can probably condition our own thoughts and desires with deliberate effort (and there is a lot of evidence that we can), and again that’s close enough to free will to me.
Then again, I thought I would choose not to continue debating free will, and I’m doing it again, so I must be wrong. :wink: