Category Archives: free will

“This American Life” on NPR covers (and denies the existence of) free will

NPR aired a two-part segment, “Where there is a will”, but the second part is about free will, and is hosted by producer David Kestenbaum, who rejects the idea of free will. He interviews two scientists (see below), both of whom also reject free will: Robert Sapolsky and Melissa Franklin. Note that none of the […]

New study: Belief in free will doesn’t make you act better

Is belief in free will necessary, as many claim, to keep society harmonious? The idea behind that claim is that if you’re a determinist, you’re going to be immoral, criminal, or nihilistic. But is there data supporting that claim? A couple of previous studies have found a positive association between “prosocial” (i.e., good) behavior and […]

Free will and moral responsibility: Gregg Caruso vs. Dan Dennett

The Aeon website has a good discussion between Dan Dennett, a free-will compatibilist, and Gregg Caruso, who calls himself a “hard incompatibilist”. (Caruso doesn’t call himself a “hard determinist” because he admits that some behaviors might be influenced by fundamental indeterminism, presumably of the quantum-mechanical sort.) The piece, called “Just deserts: Can we be held […]

Is belief in free will dangerous? Yuval Harari’s take

I’m sure most of you have heard of Yuval Noah Harari, a historian at Israel’s Hebrew University who wrote the mega best-sellers Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014) and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016).  I haven’t yet read either book, though I intend to read Sapiens. Wikipedia notes, however, that while the popular reception of that book […]

Sean Carroll on free will

In the tweet below you can hear two minutes of Official Website Physicist™ Sean Carroll discussing free will on the Freethought Prophet show.  In his tweet, host John Hamill says he was ” very deservedly schooled” by Sean, but I don’t think so. That is, Sean tried to school him, and Hamill might have felt […]

My podcast on free will at Left at the Valley

Left at the Valley is an atheist/science/politics podcast emanating from the Fraser Valley of Western Canada. I’ve been on it once before, talking about evolution, but this time they wanted to discuss free will. Before you get all het up and ready to pound the keys, I defined the kind of free will I’m discussing […]

Shermer on consciousness, free will, and God

The latest Scentific American has a short column by Michael Shermer on why he thinks consciousness, free will, and God are “insoluble mysteries”. Click on the screenshot to read the piece.   When I read it, I jotted down some thoughts that took issue with Shermer’s notion that all three are “insoluble”, and sent a […]

Sabine Hossenfelder attempts to find real free will in the laws of physics

The two main positions about free will by those who already accept physical determinism are these: a. They are incompatible: determinism completely effaces the possibility of free will; b. They are compatible: although determinism may be true, and our actions controlled by the laws of physics, we can construe a definition of free will that […]

The Cowboy Philosopher on free will and theodicy

The Cowboy Philosopher has made two satirical videos: one on the problem of consciousness, and this one on theodicy and its “solutions.” He’s Plantinga on horseback! h/t: Phil

Free will and “privilege”

Oliver Burkeman is a Guardian writer based in New York, and his new column at the site may upset a lot of readers, though I’m not quite sure. Click on the screenshot to go to his short piece.  Burkeman was apparently greatly influenced by a 2011 BBC edition of the “In Our Time” program (the […]