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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Free will - further placeholder

I'm just starting to read the pieces in the Chronicle of Higher Education that I referred to the other day. I'd actually like to discuss these individually, and in a little bit of depth, so I'll take the issue over to Talking Philosophy - which I think is a better place to do that (I'll take the pieces in the Chronicle in order, so I'll be starting with Jerry Coyne's).

But by all means, though, continue the discussion on the earlier thread.

Edit: Here's a book that I want - the new book on free will by Mathew Iredale. Whether or not I am fated to get a review copy is ... shall we say, doubtful.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I disagree with all of it, strongly.

Russell Blackford said...

And I'm beginning to suspect - strongly - that you are a troll.

Jerry Coyne said...

Oh noes, Russell. Leave me alone! I haz already been piled on by teh philosopherz!

Russell Blackford said...

Lol, haz you! They probably couldn't help doing that.

I do want to say something about your piece, but not to pile on you.

You should read Neil Levy's book, Hard Luck, Jerry. It's heavy going, but if you're patient with it you might like it.

Neil puts reasons, independent of strict determinism, for thinking we don't have free will (and draws conclusions from this similar to yours). His arguments don't convince me that it's a good idea to go around saying, "You don't have free will." And it's not just that this might have bad utilitarian consequences - I still think it's misleading to make such a claim.

But it might also be misleading going around saying, "You have free will."

I don't think determinism-based arguments for doing the former are all that persuasive, but I'm coming to think increasingly that all this talk of "free will" isn't very helpful for understanding our actual situation, partly because we don't seem to have much clarity or agreement about what it even means.

rorschach said...

Have you read Sam Harris' little book on Free Will that's just come out by any chance ?

Russell Blackford said...

I have a copy on order, and I've promised a review to ABC Religion and Ethics Portal. But no, have not yet read it.