“A rigid philosophical tradition claims that no choice is free unless it is uncaused; that is, unless the "will" is exercised independently of all causal influences - in a causal vacuum. In some unexplained fashion, the will - a thing that allegedly stands aloof from brain-based causality - makes an unconstrained choice. The problem is that choices are made by brains, and brains operate causally; that is, they go from one state to the next as a function of antecedent conditions. Moreover, though brains make decisions, there is no discrete brain structure or neural network which qualifies as "the will" let alone a neural structure operating in a causal vacuum. The unavoidable conclusion is that a philosophy dedicated to uncaused choice is as unrealistic as a philosophy dedicated to a flat Earth.
To begin to update our ideas of free will, I suggest we first shift the debate away from the puzzling metaphysics of causal vacuums to the neurobiology of self-control.”